Gen Blue has managed to hold off a rampant Samoa A outfit to claim a solid victory against their Pacific Island opponents in the Pacific Rugby Cup, 17-14.
The match started at a frenetic pace with Gen Blue on the back foot from the kick off with a wave of early pressure applied by Samoa A. The NSW defence was able to hold on but not without giving away a penalty giving Samoa A a 3-0 advantage.
The men from NSW then applied the pressure on Samoa with several phases of attack in the Samoan half, but a passionate Samoan defence was able to repel NSW each time.
Gen Blue looked to have crossed the line for an early try through the efforts of Hooker, Hugh Roach but the ball was deemed to be held up by the referee.
In the 15th minute of the match NSW gave away penalty in the centre of the field and Faialaga Afamasaga went for the penalty opportunity, only for the ball to drift just beneath the cross bar.
The momentum of the match had swung towards Samoa A with powerful runs from Andrew Williams and Tofatu Solia, which constantly got Samoa A over the advantage line.
NSW was unable to maintain their discipline at the breakdown giving Samoa A a 6-0 advantage after 17 minutes.
Matt Lucas’ penalty kick in the 22nd minute put Gen Blue on the scoreboard after several phases of pressure from NSW.
A solid NSW scrum lead by the front rowers of Mike Ala’alatoa, Hugh Roach and Tim Metcher dominated the Samoan Pack in the 25th minute of the first half, allowing NSW to gain territory over Samoa.
The well organised and vocal Samoan defence was able to hold out NSW for a try but could not prevent giving away a penalty to give Matt Lucas an easy three points.
NSW were not without chances to score a try in the first half with outside Jonny Vaux combining well with Joel Brooks to make a break on the wings. The physical Samoan defence though was able to recover from the momentary lapse and force Brooks into touch.
At half time nothing could separate the two sides on the scoreboard with both teams being locked at 9-9.
NSW started the second half strongly making a lot of early metres through Fly Half David Horwitz, but an inability to convert the pressure into tries allowed Samoa A to clear the ball and keep the scores level.
A 60 metre run from David Horwitz almost created a try scoring opportunity for Cam Crawford, but the desperate Samoan defence was able to temporarily hold off Gen Blue.
Eventually thought the pressure held with Cam Crawford crossing over in the corner for a try. Matt Lucas was unable to convert the points, meaning that NSW held the small lead of 14-9.
As the Samoan A defence began to tire, NSW was able to apply extra pressure which was rewarded with another successful penalty conversion by Matt Lucas in the 59th minute of the match, taking the score 17-9.
Another solid backline move combining Mali Hingano and Cam Crawford allowed NSW to move from the halfway mark to well inside the Samoan defensive zone.
Samoa was able to score in the corner off a brilliant finish by flying winger and Vice-Captain, Anitelea Tuilagi, who flew down the sideline to score in the corner. The excited Samoan A fans cheered as their side drew within three points of Gen Blue with the score at 17-14 with 12 minutes remaining.
Solid defence from Gen Blue Flanker, Tipoloma Kaveinga kept the Samoan defence at bay, with his excellent tracking and powerful tackles.
NSW gave away a penalty with striking range of Samoan Fly Half, Faialaga Afamasaga with 6 minutes to play, however the kick fell away to the right an NSW were able to counter attack to the other end of the field.
Samoan replacement Shane Imo looked about to make a break before a solid tackle from Rory O’Connor, prevented a sprinting Samoan backline making a break through the NSW defence.
With Samoa A only trailing by three points, both sides lifted the pace of the match with fresh reserves making their way on to the field.
A penalty given to Samoa A with two minutes remaining gave Faialaga Afamasaga the chance to level the score once again but it repeated the course of the previous kick, fading away to the right.
Matt Lucas had the opportunity to create a 6 point lead for Gen Blue from 40 metres out but the conversion was too unsuccessful, giving Samoa A one last roll of the dice to defeat NSW.
Samoa A with strong forward runners were able to power over NSW’s defence where eventually the Pacific Islanders were awarded a penalty within kicking range. This was to be the final act of the match with the game well into extra time. Reserve back, Faranisisi Fenika was unable to convert the opportunity and Gen Blue were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The final score of 17-14 reflected the closeness between the two sides throughout the match.