Wales survived a scare from Samoa to emerge 17-10 victors in a fiercely contested Pool D clash on Sunday.
The islanders, who had won both previous Rugby World Cup encounters between the nations, looked likely to register a third when prop Anthony Perenise crashed over for a try on the stroke of half-time.
But wing Shane Williams struck back with a try in the last quarter to settle the nerves of the Welsh, who had lost to South Africa by a single point a week earlier.
Both sides showed an eagerness to run the ball in the bruising encounter at Waikato Stadium.
In the eighth minute Samoa were unlucky not to get on the scoreboard after number 8 George Stowers knocked on as he tried to touch down following a destructive drive at a five-metre scrum.
Wales coach Warren Gatland’s plans suffered an early setback when Andy Powell had to replace flanker Danny Lydiate, who injured his right ankle in tenth minute.
But Wales rallied and almost immediately took the lead when James Hook slotted a penalty from in front of the posts after a high tackle on fly half Rhys Priestland.
Samoa responded with a Williams penalty midway through the half.
The Wales scrum began to gain the upper hand and when the Samoans were penalised for collapsing after 26 minutes Hook was again on target to make it 6-3, despite losing his footing as he made his kick.
Samoa felt aggrieved not to get a try after half an hour when Maurie Faasavalu was penalised for a double movement on the Wales line.
But they got their reward when Perenise crashed over after some sustained pressure.
Priestland narrowed the gap to 10-9 straight after the break with a long-range penalty that bounced on the cross bar before going over.
With full back Hook not returning to the field after half-time, Wales were without their most potent attacking influence.
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But Priestland put the Welsh back in front with a penalty before Shane Williams rounded off a breakout to make the score 17-10.
Despite some committed attack by the Samoans in the last 10 minutes, Welsh defence held firm for the win.