Samoa stole a nine-try thriller by five tries to four in a pulsating 37-31 win over Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup on Saturday.
With nothing to lose, both teams threw themselves into the match aiming to score as many tries as possible, and ended up matching wach other almost try for try. It was 17-17 at the break, but the home side just had a little too much in reserve.
The Samoans shot into the lead through tries by Semo Sititi and Loleni Tafunai in the first ten minutes, both converted by Gavin Williams.
But Ryu Holani’s try and a conversion and penalty from Dragons-bound James Arlidge brought Japan back into the match, and after Williams had made it 17-10 with a penalty of his own, Japan full-back Shaun Webb struck on the stroke of half-time with Arlidge once again converting.
Once again, Samoa surged into the lead in the second half, with tries from Hiroshi Tea and Henry Tuilagi and another conversion from Williams making it 29-17, but Japan kept hitting back, and aconverted try from Hirotoki Onozawa made it 29-24.
Williams put Samoa two scores ahead with another penalty, but Takashi Kikutani’s try with five minutes to go – again converted by Arlidge – made it 32-31.
James Johnston struck for Samoa with three minutes to go, but Williams’ miss from the conversion ensured a tense final couple of minutes.
Tries: Sititi, Tafunai, Tea, Tuilagi, Johnston
Cons: Williams 3
Pens: Williams 2
Tries: Holani, Webb, Onozawa, Kikutani
Cons: Arlidge 4
Samoa: 15 Gavin Williams, 14 Esera Lauina, 13 Henry Faafili, 12 Anitele’a Tuilagi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 9 Uale Mai, 8 Henry Tuilagi, 7 Semo Sititi, 6 George Stowers, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Filipo Levi (C), 3 Census Johnston, 2 Loleni Tafunai, 1 Hiroshi Tea.
Replacements: 16 Simon Lemalu, 17 James Johnston, 18 Daniel Leo, 19 Jonathan Faamatuainu, 20 Notise Tauafao, 21 Roger Warren, 22 Paletuatoa Toelupe.
Japan: 15 Shaun Webb, 14 Christian Loamanu, 13 Bryce Robins, 12 Ryan Nicholas, 11 Hirotoki Onozawa, 10 James Arlidge, 9 Tomoki Yoshida, 8 Ryu Holani, 7 Hare Makiri, 6 Takuro Miuchi (C), 5 Toshizumi Kitagawa, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Tomokazu Soma, 2 Yusuke Aoki, 1 Tatsukichi Nishiura.
Replacements: 16 Noanori Mizuyama, 17 Yuta Inose, 18 Tomoaki Taniguchi, 19 Takashi Kikutani, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Shotaro Onishi, 22 Hiroki Yoshida.