Fiji heroics against England inspired Samoa in heartbreaking loss

Lima Sopoaga plots his way through Irish defence (Photo: Manu Samoa/Facebook)

Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua wants his players to be more clinical at the World Cup, having been inspired by Fiji’s historic Twickenham win over England earlier on Sunday.

Samoa came close to claiming their own historic win against World No.1s Ireland, only to ultimately fall to a 17-13 defeat in miserable conditions in Bayonne.

Second-half tries from Conor Murray and Rob Herring saw Ireland scrape a record 13th straight win after Samoa threatened an upset at Stade Jean Dauge by battling back to lead following Jimmy O’Brien’s maiden Test score.

Mapusua’s men complete their Pool D campaign against Steve Borthwick’s side in Lille in early October.

“There’s definitely a lot to take from today,” he said. “We’ll take a lot of confidence out of that.

“A harsh lesson to learn but we’ve got to nail our opportunities when we get them.

“At the World Cup, we might only get one (chance) in a game, so we’ll definitely take those lessons on board.

“Seeing Fiji not just beat England but in the manner they did, was really inspiring for all of us Pacific islands.

“It’s encouraging to see where our teams in the Pacific are heading. It was awesome to see them make history today, he said.

It is back to the drawing board for Manu Samoa head coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua and his team as they work on the areas exposed in the match against Ireland on Sunday morning.

Vaovasamanaia said the loss was felt because the team put in the hard yards in the game to match up to the top ranked team in the world.

“Harsh lessons learnt but it was an opportunity to see where we stand before the World Cup,” he said in his post match press conference.

“There are set pieces we have been working on, especially around our scrums. This is the second match we have had against a tier one team, the more opportunities we can get to play such teams.”

Vaovasamanaia highlighted the need for Manu Samoa to have more matches against top tier teams to improve the level of the game.

He said as Manu Samoa head into the World Cup, they will keep improving and be ready when it is game time.

Captain Michael Ala’alatoa said the loss was heart wrenching.

“It is a tough way to lose. We don’t get these opportunities against the best in the world often. We did everything we could to put up our best effort, very gutted to be honest,” he said.

“It is an improvement and we can take a lot forward from the way the Irish played. There were some moments there in the second half and these are things we can get better at before the World Cup.”

Vaovasamanaia said despite missing out on the five weeks spent in Samoa, flyhalf Lima Sopoaga had fitted well with the team.

He said Sopoaga was a special player and he showed that in the game.

Manu Samoa are pooled with England, Argentina, Japan and Chile. Their opening game is against Chile.

Vaovasamanaia also praised the efforts of the Flying Fijians who earlier beat England 33-20. He said the win was inspiring as it showed that even the teams considered to be at the top can be beaten.

Samoa showed solid defence in the Irish game and for the majority of the game were the better team. The coach knows that this was a stepping stone towards their real goal and the focus should be such. It is now 19 days until Manu Samoa play their first game in the Rugby World Cup. Manu Samoa will face Chile on Sunday 17 September at 2.00am Apia time.

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