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Samoa give USA a league lesson
Samoa are through to the repechage qualifying final for the Rugby League World Cup.
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2007 16:04 GMT

Samoa are now one win away from a place at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup [GALLO/GETTY]

Samoa have continued their revival as a Rugby League nation with a commanding 46-10 victory over the USA in the repechage semi-final of the Rugby League World Cup qualifiers being played in England.
Boasting a side with plenty of big name players from Australia's National Rugby League and the English Super League, many expected the Pacific Islanders scoreline to hit triple figures, but to their credit the Tomahawks showed some real character to restrict a potent attack in Widnes.
However, it didn't always look that way as five eighth Nigel Vagana, who holds the Test try scoring record for New Zealand, crossed with his first touch after just one minute of play.
 
There were then some concerns about the game as a competitive fixture when Hutch Maiva, Hull frontrower, crossed just five minutes later as the Islanders stayed ahead of the clock on the scoreboard.
 
But the Matt Elliot coached side then found some composure and it wasn't until Tony Puletua, a player Elliot coaches at club level in Australia, scored eight minutes before halftime that the favourites again troubled the scorer.
 
A further try to winger Chris Leisam just before the break made it 24-0 and the result was then never in doubt.
 
In the second half, the Americans did score twice through Ryan McGoldrick and David Myles to add some deserved respectability to the scoreline, while John Ackland's men added a further four tries to their own ledger including a double to Wigan forward Harrison Hanson.
 
Developing the game in the US
 
Following the match coach Elliot was full of praise for his Tomahawks side which included nine players from the domestic American competition, a figure only bettered by Rugby League powerhouses Australia and England.
 
"It was a fantastic effort and the guys can be really proud of themselves," Elliot said.
 
The Penrith Panthers coach was always hopeful that the experience gained by the players would further help the game in the United States.
 

"They are very raw, but amazing athletes... "

Matt Elliot,
USA coach

"We'll never be a powerhouse of the game, that simply won't happen, but if we can develop the game to the level where we are a regular participant at the World Cup then that would be great."
 
It certainly wasn't through a lack of natural talent that will see the Tomahawks absent from the game's showpiece next year in Australia.
 
"It is a pity we can't put out the best side, because sadly this wasn't their best team," Elliot added.
 
"I've seen some tremendous athletes come and play three or four games after missing out on the NFL draft from college, but they then go and play American football in Canada," he lamented.
 
"They are very raw, but amazing athletes and while I don't begrudge them going and earning a living. It would be fantastic if we had the money to keep hold of some of them because they could really make a difference."
 
Samoan revival
 
Ackland, Samoan coach, was also hopeful his team's performance would have a knock-on effect back home, after the match was televised live into Samoa and the victory sparking huge celebrations.
 
"I'm not going to say that the result confirms a revival, but with the people we have on board like Nigel (Vagana) and Tony (Puletua) we are really hoping that things can really push on develop," Ackland said.
 
"All of these things come down to the quality of the administration, but I think we really are setting the right foundations."
 
Samoa play Lebanon in the final of the repechage in Featherstone, England on November 14.
Source:
Al Jazeera
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