Samoa take a big lead into the second leg of their RWC 2019 qualifier against Germany

Samoa close in on 2019 World Cup spot

Samoa are in the box seat to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after beating Germany 66-15 in the first leg of their play-off in Apia.

Samoa wing Ed Fidow scored a hat-trick and scrum-half Melani Matavao got a brace as the hosts notched ten tries in all. As well as a penalty try, Alapati Leiua, Jack Lam, Joe Tekori and Dwayne Polataivao all crossed.

It was a convincing win for the Samoans, with Germany struggling to cope with their physicality. A missed tackle count of nearly 40 is evidence of how often Samoa were able to punch holes in Germany’s defence.

Matavao was crucial to his side’s win, ensuring his side played at tempo and causing Germany no end of problems with his snipes around the contact area as well as his footwork in open field.

The Samoa scrum also provided a huge platform for the team to attack from, while slick hands in the back-line allowed them to be clinical out wide.

They will be looking to improve at the lineout in Heidelberg in the second leg on 14 July as it did not function well in Apia, and they need to focus for the full 80 minutes. The occasional lapse here, particularly from restarts, resulted in German pressure on the Samoan line.

However, a 51-point winning margin puts them in a very strong position to secure a place in Pool A at Japan 2019, alongside Ireland, Japan, Russia and Scotland.

Samoa close in on 2019 World Cup spot

Top three: Ed Fidow scored a hat-trick in Samoa’s win over Germany (Getty Images)

Samoa had used their Pacific Nations Cup games against Fiji and Tonga earlier in the month to try out different combinations in the squad, and with their best team on the field here everything seemed to click.

“It was a team effort and I think from the Pacific Nations Cup games we added execution,” said Samoa captain Chris Vui. “In the PNC games we made simple handling errors and I think we adjusted out game plan well. We started really well in the first 20 minutes too.

“They’re a really good team and a good endurance team, so we’ll do our homework and change a few things up (ahead of the second leg).”

Samoa close in on 2019 World Cup spot

Downbeat: Germany coach Pablo Lemoine was critical of his side’s attitude (Getty Images)

Germany’s two tries came from flanker Jaco Otto but overall coach Pablo Lemoine was hugely disappointed by his side’s performance, criticising players’ attitudes in such an important game. He knows what it takes to qualify for a World Cup, too, having successfully guided Uruguay through the process ahead of the 2015 tournament.

“If we’re being 100% realistic, if we want to play at that level we have to change many things, especially players’ mindsets,” said Lemoine. “Some guys are better players than they showed today and they need to show humility.

“We’re looking to qualify for the Rugby World Cup and you have to respect that. Some players didn’t show the respect they should have. Their attitudes weren’t right. We expect more. This was a World Cup qualification game and they didn’t show the respect a game of this level needed. We have to change here (pointing at his head).”

Expect Germany to make a few personnel changes ahead of their home leg, but if Samoa can replicate the physicality and accuracy they demonstrated here – and cut out the lapses in concentration – they are clear favourites to qualify for Japan 2019.

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