Diabolical Dragons edge Samoa

A woeful Wales side survived a nervous final ten minutes to hold on for an unconvincing 17-13 victory in Cardiff.

Samoa produced a valiant performance considering they had just three days to prepare for the game, and had it not been for some poor goal kicking it could have been a completely different story.

That being said, a Wales side featuring a number of members of the 2009 British Lions squad should have put the men in blue to the sword and ultimately it was a poor performance from Warren Gatland’s men.

Wales – playing in unfamiliar yellow shirts with black shorts – started the better of the two sides and dominated both territory and possession in the first half but failed to turn their dominance into points in what was a shocking first half display from both sides.

The two flyhalves exchanged penalties in the first couple of minutes before the Dragons got the first try of the game when a brilliant cross-field kick by Dan Biggar was held superbly by Leigh Halfpenny who held off the challenge of the last defender and dotted down in the corner.

Unfortunately that was as good as it got in the first 40 minutes as a combination handling errors and poor decision making spoiled any promising attacking movements.

Fa’atonu Fili got his side’s second penalty with just over five minutes to go in the first half as Wales went into the break with a slender 11-6 lead.

Halfpenny gave his side a little bit of breathing space at the start of the second stanza with a penalty from the halfway line but it was much of the same for the hosts in the second half.

The only thing worse than the rugby on display was the state of the Millennium Stadium’s pitch which was cutting up under even the slightest bit of force.

After persistent breakdown infringements referee Peter Fitzgibbon’s patience with Samoa reached its limit and he sent No 8 Henry Tuilagi to the bin in the 52nd minute. Biggar slotted the resulting penalty to give his side an 11 point lead.

With a man advantage the game started to open up for Wales, yet still they couldn’t find a way through the Samoan defence and against the run of play Seilala Mapusua pulled off a wonderful interception and ran almost the length of the field to score Samoa’s only try.

The conversion brought Samoa back to within just four points and the Cardiff crowed were stunned.

It was Samoa who looked the more threatening in the latter stages of the game and with less than eight minutes to go the Islanders had the opportunity to make it a one point game but centre Gavin Williams’ pulled his penalty attempt wide.

In the end Wales managed to hold on for the win but Gatland will be far from pleased with his players’ performance ahead of next week’s clash with Argentina.

By Andrew Worling