Former Brisbane City star Ed Fidow bagged a hat-trick of tries as Samoa moved a step closer to qualifying for the 2019 World Cup with a 66-15 thrashing of Germany in Apia on Saturday.
It was the first match in a two-leg play-off to find the final qualifier to complete Pool A, which already includes Ireland, Russia, Scotland and hosts Japan.
Samoa responded in style to strident pre-match criticism from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi as they outscored Germany 10 tries to two.
After a string of nine defeats since beating Canada in 2016, Malielegaoi told the players they "have no guts" and if they lost they "all have to resign from the team".
His outburst paid dividends as centre Alapati Leiua had the Pacific islanders on the board within eight minutes.
Melani Matavao (2), Jack Lam, Ed Fidow (3), Joe Tekori and Dwayne Polataivao all scored along with a penalty try while Ah See Tuala landed seven conversions.
Germany, who Malielegaoi said have "no knowledge whatsoever" about rugby, relied on a penalty by Raynor Parkinson in the first half with two tries to Jaco Otto and a Parkinson conversion in the second.
The return leg is in Heidelberg, Germany on July 14.
Tries: Fidow 3, Matavao 2, Penalty, Polataivaia, Leiua, Lam, Tekori
Cons: Tuala 5, Faapale 2
Tries: Otto 2
Cook Islands vs Hong Kong
@HongKongRugby managed to keep the Cook Islanders tryless in their first of two tests - Full-Time score HKG 26 CI 3. Show your support for Hong Kong next Saturday at the @HKFCrugby for the return match. KO 4:30pm HKT #letsgohongkong— HKRU (@HongKongRugby) July 1, 2018
Hong Kong won the first leg of their home and away series against the Cook Islands 26-3 in Rarotonga Saturday to move a step closer to a berth in next year's World Cup in Japan.
The newly crowned Asia Rugby Championship winners outscored the Cook Islands four tries to nil and led 18-3 at half-time.
Thomas Lamboley, Liam Slatem, Conor Hartley and Max Woodward all touched down for the visitors while Matthew Rosslee landed two penalties.
Matthew Mullany scored the Cook Islands' only points with a penalty early in the game.
hile the Asia tournament had sharpened Hong Kong, the Cook Islands were playing their first international in 10 months since they lost to Tahiti in the 2017 Oceania Rugby Cup.
That result was later overturned after Tahiti were found to have fielded ineligible players.
The return leg is in Hong Kong next Saturday with the winner on aggregate joining Canada, a yet-to-be-determined Africa side and the loser of the Samoa-Germany play-off in a repechage tournament to fill the 20th and final spot at the World Cup.
Hong Kong 26
Tries: Lamboley, Slatem, Hartley, Woodward
Pens: Rosslee 2
Cook Islands 3
Kenya vs Zimbabwe
Debutant Dalmus Chituyi scored two crucial tries at the death to help Kenya beat Zimbabwe 45-36 in a dramatic Rugby World Cup qualifier in Nairobi on Saturday.
Kenya were staring at defeat after Zimbabwe, who were trailing 33-17 at half-time staged a dramatic comeback to score 19 points in the second half of the game.
Kenyan captain Davis Chenge had put the home side in the driving seat with a hat-trick of tries in the opening 18 minutes before Zimbabwe's Denford Mutamangira, playing his 50th international reduced the deficit with the first try for the Sables.
Zimbabwe had Fortune Chipendu sin-binned in the 34th minute, but the visitors rallied with a commanding performance in the second half, scoring four tries, a penalty and a conversion as the home-side collapsed under the pressure.
Zimbabwe took advantage of a Kenyan yellow card in the 55th minute as England-based winger Matthew McNab took the opportunity to put his resurgent side into the lead for the first time in the match when he broke through the slack Kenyan defence down the left before making his dive to score their fifth try.
But Chituyi ensured Kenya's victory with the two late tries to keep the Simbas in contention for a place in next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Kenya bagged four more points to remain in second position with eight points behind leaders Namibia, who play Morocco away later on Saturday.
Kenya will host Uganda in their match of the competition on July 7, while third-placed Zimbabwe, which last qualified for the World Cup in 1991 will entertain Tunisia away.