Ireland too powerful for Samoa


Ireland 35 Samoa 8

Ireland warmed up for next week's Test clash against New Zealand with a convincing 35-8 victory over an under-strength Samoa at Lansdowne Road today.

A well-worked late try from wing Tyrone Howe completed a satisfying afternoon for Ireland, who had too much strength in the setpiece for the South Pacific islanders and never looked threatened.

Irish coach Warren Gatland, who had made eight changes for this match from the team that beat England in the Six Nations last month, will approach next Saturday's New Zealand encounter in good heart.

Ireland opened the scoring on five minutes when man-of-the-match Ronan O'Gara popped over a simple three-pointer from in front of the posts after the tourists were penalised for killing a ruck.

But Samoa responded immediately, the Islanders crashed through midfield, Ireland's defence dived over on the wrong side and flyhalf Earl Va'a stroked a penalty over from mid-range.

Another penalty for killing the ball provoked the first sinbinning of the match, Samoan prop Tamato Leupolu getting a yellow card for negative play allowing O'Gara to make it 6-3 with the penalty.

Samoa's tackling was predictably physical and skipper Semo Sititi was lucky to come away with only a warning when he poleaxed his Irish counterpart Anthony Foley with a high tackle.

From an ensuing lineout, Ireland drove hooker Frank Sheahan over for a converted score. Another O'Gara penalty left Ireland firmly in control at halftime with a 16-3 lead.

Samoa's best moment of the first half came on the stroke of halftime. Swansea centre Brian Lima broke inside his own 22 and went sprinting upfield to within 15 yards of the Irish line. Supporting wing Lome Fa'atau was unable to gather Lima's pass though and the attack died.

Earlier, Samoa had again pierced the first line of Ireland's defence when Newcastle's Va'aiga Tuigamala bulldozed 45 metres upfield with a typically robust break.

The ball was offloaded to Afato So'oalo but the Samoan wing did not have the pace to evade opposite number Geordan Murphy before being hauled into touch.

Six minutea after the interval and Ireland were out of sight, debutant fullback Jeremy Staunton finishing off a fine attack by changing the angle of his run to score under the posts. O'Gara added the conversion.

Samoa responded with the try of the match, taking a quick penalty from five yards off their line and sweeping upfield. Setiti burst through non-existent Irish tackling before offloading to Fa'atau who spun wide for So'oalo to round off a magical passage of play with the score.

But two more Irish tries gave the scoreline a healthier look for the home side. Leicester wing Murphy outpaced the cover to get on the end of a superb chip by British and Irish Lions star Brian O'Driscoll, and Howe's late effort in the corner sealed victory.

IRELAND:Staunton, Murphy, O'Driscoll, Maggs, Howe, O'Gara, Stringer, E. Byrne, Sheahan, Hayes, Galwey, Longwell, Miller, Dawson, Foley. Replacements: Wood, Clohessy, Brennan, S. Easterby, G. Easterby, Everitt, Mullins.

SAMOA:Vili, Fa'atau, Lima, Tuigamala, So'oalo, Va'a, So'oiloa, Leupolu, Meredith, Tomuli, Palepoi, Viliamu, Vaili, Sititi, Stowers. Replacements: Schwalger, Lalomilo, Segi, Tooala, Tyrell, Seveali'i, Leaega.

Referee:Ian Ramage (Scotland)