Tuesday 20 March 2018

Samoa are out for revenge, warns Wales captain Jones

James Corrigan

The word 'Samoa' is synonymous with ignominious defeat in Cardiff. And if the Pacific Islanders were to record a third international victory in the Welsh capital this evening, expect an eerily familiar gloom to envelope the country.

Following a humbling, if not humiliating loss to Argentina, this is a game Wales have to win. If they do not, they will be in danger of falling out of the top eight in the rankings before the World Cup draw in December – and will be assured of a negative reaction hysterical enough to make the Grand Slam in March seem from a different age.

Except, the memories of the 1991 and 1999 World Cups warn what is eminently possible against Samoa; as, of course, does the Webb Ellis collision in Hamilton a year ago, which the Dragons scraped through by the skin of their fangs. In the words of their stand-in captain, Ryan Jones: "They are gunning for us – they are out for revenge."

Wales, meanwhile, are out for respect; a priceless commodity with New Zealand and Australia looming. Rob Howley, the interim coach, has read them the riot act and Sam Warburton has been consigned to the bench, along with their outside-half Rhys Priestland. Their replacements – Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar – can force their way into next week's All Blacks clash.

But a visiting outfit, including the might of Census Johnson in the front-row and the sleight of Tusi Pisi at No 10, will not make any official elevation easy. In fact, Mike Phillips, the returning No 9, sees danger throughout their ranks. "They are a major threat," he said. "They turned Australia over last year. We will give them massive respect, but we've got to take it to them."

Wales – L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, A Beck, J Roberts, G North, D Biggar; M Phillips; T Faletau, J Tipuric, R Jones (capt), I Evans, B Davies, A Jarvis, R Hibbard, P James. Reps: K Owens, G Jenkins, S Andrews, L Charteris, S Warburton, T Knoyle, R Priestland, S Williams.

Samoa – F Autagavaia; P Perez, G Pisi, P Williams, D Lemi (capt); T Pisi, K Fotuali'i; T Tuifua, M Fa'asavalu, O Treviranus, F Paulo, D Leo, C Johnston, O Avei, S Taulafo. Reps: T Paulo, V Afatia, J Johnston, T Fomai, J Su'a, J Leota, R Lilomaiava.

Wales v Samoa,

Live, BBC2 Wales/S4C, 7.30

Irish Independent

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