World Cup - Pisi kicks Samoa to win over Fiji
Fly-half Tusi Pisi booted four penalties and a drop goal to keep alive Samoa's slim hopes of qualifying for the rugby World Cup quarter-finals as they beat fellow Pacific Islanders Fiji 27-7 in their Pool D clash at Eden Park.
The first World Cup meeting between the two teams had generated huge excitement among fans in Auckland anticipating attacking, running rugby but tricky conditions led to numerous handling errors in a scrappy encounter watched by 60,000.
Samoa's second victory after beating Namibia and losing to Wales, means they have a chance of qualifying from Pool D for the knockout stages if they can overcome holders South Africa in Albany on Friday, while Fiji are all but out of contention.
Samoa played without their usual attacking, running play as they opted to kick a lot of ball to control territory and assistant coach Brian McLean said there was more to come from his side.
"We varied the game a little bit more today than we did against Wales so that was an improvement but we are certainly not playing to our potential that is for sure," the Australian told reporters.
The carnival atmosphere in Auckland, home to the largest Polynesian population in the world, heightened before kick-off when Fiji launched into their pre-match challenge, the Cibi, after Samoa had begun their Siva Tau.
However, the 23 handling errors from the two sides after a morning of rain in Auckland threatened to spoil the Pacific Island party.
With the mistakes frequent, Samoa wisely abandoned their running game and opted to play for territory, shrewdly pinning Fiji back in their own 22 for long periods of the match with a number of clever kicks.
The Samoans relied on the boot of Pisi for points early on and the fly-half stroked over his first penalty in the sixth minute after Fiji were penalised for being offside.
A scrum infringement allowed Pisi to kick another penalty before he landed an impressive 35-metre drop goal in the 13th minute.
Another penalty stretched the lead to 12-0 at halftime as Fiji looked stunned after a poor 40 minutes where they failed to threaten their opponents line.
More Fijian errors followed at the start of the second period when they were penalised in front of their posts for not releasing and Pisi gratefully slotted over another kick to extend the lead to 15.
The sun finally poked through with 20 minutes remaining as both team provided the expectant crowd with some skilful play.
Samoan scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i wriggled over for the opening try after a seven-metre dart, bouncing off some flimsy Fijian tackles but Pisi failed to convert.
The score finally brought a reaction from Fiji and with one of their rare forays in to the Samoan 22, flanker Netani Edward Talei crashed over from short range to give them hope.
However, any thoughts of a comeback were quashed minutes later when Samoan number eight George Stowers scored a try in the corner after a break from the impressive fullback Paul Williams, who kicked the conversion from the touchline.
"We didn't really respect our ball in the first half, we failed to hold on to the ball through our phases," Fijian captain Deacon Manu told reporters.
"I was very disappointed at our turnover rate. We were nervous early on and we missed plenty of tackles. That first half we didn't really fire any shots."
6’ Pisi penalty: Samoa 3-0
11’ Pisi penalty: Samoa 6-0
13’ Pisi drop goal: Samoa 9-0
27’ Pisi penalty: Samoa 12-0
45’ Pisi penalty: Samoa 15-0
62’ Fotuali'I try: Samoa 20-0
68’ Talei try: 20-5 Fiji
69’ Luveniyali conversion: 20-7 Fiji
70’ Stowers try: Samoa 25-7
71’ Williams conversion: Samoa 27-7