Preview: Samoa v Wales

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:12
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IN THE INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Matt Sherratt has warned Wales they will face a brutally physical opening quarter when they meet Samoa in their second tour clash in Apia on Friday.

Robin McBryde's men are looking to build on their 24-6 victory over Tonga in the Pacific Islands, but are wary of the threat posed by a Samoan team thrashed 78-0 by the All Blacks last weekend.

Wales' starting XV has just 151 international caps between them and 92 of those belong to captain and centre Jamie Roberts.

A tough, physical encounter in the forwards is expected.

"The Samoan onslaught is going to come. They're a very proud team and nation. A couple of their players are from the PRO12, so we know what they're going to be like," Sherratt said.

"They don't play in Apia very often and they'll want to do themselves justice. The first 20 minutes are going to be pretty brutal. Shaun Edwards spoke to the team this week and told the young players they're going to have to be ready for that.

"Samoa are a physical bunch at the best of times but their defeat to the All Blacks last week and the fact they're playing back in Apia means it's going to be pretty tasty early on."

Wales' forward pack contains just 31 caps, but McBryde is confident the likes of Ryan Elias, Dillon Lewis and Rory Thornton have both the ability and temperament to cope.

Another factor for Wales to consider is the conditions. Sweltering temperatures in Apia have been complimented by pouring rain and wet weather is forecast for Friday night's game.

Sherratt added: "Everyone is fit and healthy and we're ready to go. We had a session at the stadium late under the floodlights just to make sure we get used to what it's going to be like on Friday evening.

"The weather is pretty unpredictable here. The forecast each day is both bright sunshine and with rain, I think they seem to hedge their bets a bit. We've done a bit of the same and it was obviously poor conditions for the game with Tonga in Auckland. I think we have to prepare for that again.

"In a night game it's usually a little bit greasy and there is rain forecast. We were slapping the sun screen on before training and then we got drenched, so anything could happen."

Wales' victory over Tonga saw them control territory and possession with flyhalf Sam Davies impressing with his tactical kicking.

Field position will be vital again in Apia.

"We have to play to the conditions and I think that's what we did really well against Tonga," Sherratt said.

"It's very tempting as a young team to try and thrive from an individual point of view. But what we did against Tonga was play the right game at the right time. If we need to against Samoa we'll be ready to play territory."

Players to watch:

For Samoa: The key players for the Pacific Islanders are their halfbacks - flyhalf Tusitala Pisi (a 34-year-old with over 200 first class games in New Zealand, Japan, France and England) and scrumhalf Kahn Fotualii (a year older, with just short of 200 first class games in New Zealand and England).

For Wales: Captain Jamie Roberts, with more than half of Wales' international experience, will be the guiding light in more ways than one. Gareth Anscombe, with his more than 100 first class games in New Zealand and Wales, will be the other key asset in a very inexperienced team.

Head to head: Samoa's real chance depends on how their tight forwards - Faatiga Lemalu, Chris Vui, Paul Alo-Emile, Maatulimanu Leiataua and Viliamu Afatia - cope with the Welsh bruisers Rory Thornton, Seb Davies, Dillon Lewis, Ryan Elias and Nicky Smith.

Previous results:
2012: Samoa won 26-19, Cardiff
2011: Wales won 17-10, Hamilton (World Cup pool match)
2009: Wales won 17-13, Cardiff
2000: Wales won 50-6, Cardiff
1999: Samoa won 38-31, Cardiff (World Cup pool match)
1994: Samoa won 34-9, Moamoa
1991: Samoa won 16-13, Cardiff (World Cup pool match)
1988: Wales won 24-6, Cardiff
1986: Wales won 32-14, Apia

Prediction: Samoa have a real chance of beating the Welsh, as they have done so often before. However, they key is what psychological scars they have left of last week's 78-0 mauling at the hands of New Zealand. We think Wales will just edge it - by less than 10 points.

Teams:

Samoa: 15 D'Angelo Leuila, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Reynold Lee-lo, 11 David Lemi (Captain), 10 Tusitala Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotualii, 8 Fata Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Galu Taufale, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1 Viliamu Afatia.
Replacements:  16 Seilala Lam, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Bronson Fotualii-Tauakipulu, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Tila Mealoi

Wales: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Cory Allen, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jamie Roberts (captain), 11 Steffan Evans, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Scott Williams.

Date: Friday, June 23
Venue: Apia Park, Apia
Kick-off: 19.30 (07.30 BST; 06.30 GMT)
Expected weather: Some rain and a thunderstorm. High off 27°C and a low of 24°C
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)

Source: @WelshRugbyUnion