Late Heroics by Care Secure Narrow 18-17 Win for England Over Samoa

Late Heroics by Care Secure Narrow 18-17 Win for England Over Samoa

England managed to maintain their perfect record at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but it wasn’t without a hard-fought battle as they narrowly defeated Samoa 18-17 in Lille on Saturday.

The game began with an early score by Ollie Chessum for England, but Samoa, who had previously beaten Chile and suffered close losses to Argentina and Japan, displayed ambition and growing confidence. They were rewarded with two tries from Nigel Ah-Wong within the first half, and they had two more tries ruled out by the Television Match Official.

The match saw a back-and-forth exchange of penalties between Owen Farrell and Lima Sopoaga, and England had two tries disallowed by the TMO as well. With Samoa reduced to 14 players, replacement scrum-half Danny Care’s converted try finally secured the victory for England.

Having already secured their place as Pool D winners, England is set to face the runners-up in Pool C, which is likely to be either Australia or Fiji, in the quarter-finals in Marseille on Sunday, October 15.

Despite ending up on the losing side, Samoa’s fly-half Lima Sopoaga was named the Mastercard Player of the Match and commented, “It has been a disappointing couple of weeks, we felt we just didn’t give the jersey the justice it deserved. Tonight I’m proud, we didn’t come away with the chocolates but we left it all out there, and that’s all that anyone can ask. I’m incredibly proud of the boys, just a little bit disappointed and just gutted for Samoa and all our fans and supporters.”

Regarding the turning points in the game, he added, “I guess a call here and there, a mistake here and there, and at the highest level, you’ll pay. That’s a quality England team; they hung in there and they got over the line in the end. But I am incredibly proud of the team and what we tried to give out there. We were down early, and we kept fighting, and unfortunately, it just wasn’t our day today.”

England captain Owen Farrell acknowledged the scrappy nature of the match, stating, “It was scrappy. It didn’t feel like the best from us, but all credit has to go to Samoa, the way they came out and fired shots at us tonight was tough to deal with at times. We didn’t deal with it discipline-wise, we didn’t deal with it with mistakes at times. I’m glad we found a way back in. I’m glad when we weren’t at our best we found a way to win.”

Farrell surpassed Jonny Wilkinson as England’s all-time top points scorer but remained focused on the game, saying, “I don’t know what it means at the minute. I’m still thinking about the game, still thinking about us. It will be like that for [a long time to come], and I’ll think about it later down the line.”

England head coach Steve Borthwick praised Samoa’s performance, saying, “My first thoughts are what a performance for Samoa; I thought they were absolutely incredible today, put us under enormous pressure, that is a huge credit to them. For us, it was scrappy, we made a lot of errors, and there were periods where we didn’t play within our system. That put us under an awful lot of pressure. There are some huge learnings, and it was a tough test for next week.”

Borthwick also commended Farrell, calling him a “great player and leader” for his role in leading the team to victory.

Samoa’s captain, Michael Alaalatoa, expressed both pride and disappointment, saying, “Really disappointed. Lost for words really around the way the result went but that’s the game we were looking for this whole World Cup. We’ve shown in glimpses what we can do, and tonight we put in an 80-minute performance that we can be proud of. Immensely proud of my boys; we left it all out there, and we did everything we could to win that game. Some of the England players said themselves that it’s the toughest game they’ve had so far. It’s good to know that as well.”

Head coach Seilala Mapusua shared the sentiment, stating, “Pretty lost for words at the moment. If anything, my heart breaks for these boys because they deserve much more than they got out there today. They (England) threw everything at them, asked a lot of questions of them, and they definitely answered those questions.”

Mark Z

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