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Samoa player ratings vs England | Rugby World Cup 2023

By Josh Raisey
Samoa's fly-half Lima Sopoaga (C) reacts during the France 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between England and Samoa at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, northern France on October 7, 2023. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Samoa brought their World Cup to an end with comfortably their best performance of the tournament on Saturday, as they narrowly fell to England 18-17 in Lille.

Seilala Mapusua’s side spent large swathes of the match in the lead and were the superior side for a larger portion of the contest, but a late Danny Care try meant they were unable to secure their first win over England.

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It was a game where the losing side boasted the lion’s share of the best players on the pitch, and that shows in their ratings:

15 Duncan Paia’aua – 7
Most alert player on the pitch to pounce on a fluffed box kick from England to score Samoa’s disallowed third try, and came close to scoring early in the second-half following a counter-attack but was tracked down by George Ford. Made the most metres of anyone on the pitch, and came agonisingly close to sealing the win for Samoa late on when he was on the end of a frenetic counter.

14 Nigel Ah-Wong – 8
Took his first try well in the corner, but that was soon eclipsed by his second when he was able to pluck the ball out of the air and dot it down with just millimetres to spare. Always looked dangerous whenever the ball went out to his wing, although he perhaps had a quieter final 20 minutes than he would have liked.

13 Tumua Manu – 6
Had a part to play in some vital moments for Samoa- an interception and a sublime flick-on for Ah-Wong’s first try in the first-half. Equally, he was caught holding on when Samoa were peppering England’s line before half-time. Ultimately, the most decisive part he had to play in the game was his yellow card for taking Freddie Steward out in the air. England capitalised on that and it tarnished what was an fizzing performance from the centre.

12 Danny Toala – 5
Some big hits but conversely some big misses in the midfield. Some unfortunate missed tackles up against Manu Tuilagi and was pinged a couple of times by referee Andrew Brace.

11 Neria Fomai – 6
Did not see anywhere near as much action with ball in hand as his back three teammates, rather found himself being called upon defensively far more.

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10 Lima Sopoaga – 10
Put a rudimentary penalty miss early on behind him to consistently threaten England’s defence in a variety of ways, be it sniping runs himself or his fruitful cross-field kicks. The latter set up a sensational Ah-Wong try, but that was not the only occasion his kicks troubled his opponents. The ex All Black was too much for England to handle on plenty of occasions. Had a minute spell where he won a penalty at the breakdown on his line off the back of an England maul only to miss touch, but that should not deter from a brilliant performance.

9 Jonathan Taumateine – 8
Set the tone for Samoa’s lively display on both sides of the ball. Spearheaded their oppressive defence from the ruck and injected plenty of tempo in attack with some crisp passing from the base. Left the field with Samoa in a healthy position.

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1 Jordan Lay – 6
A solid display albeit not as imposing as some of his teammates were. Was still the bedrock of some huge defensive mauls to repel England.

2 Sama Malolo – 7
Came close to pinballing his way over the line in the first-half, and was persistently a threat in close quarters. Not entirely perfect at the lineout, but a strong display nevertheless.

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3 Michael Alaalatoa (c) – 6
Penalised early on at the scrum but grew into the game and linked up with his backs well.

4 Sam Slade – 5
Had a quiet game and was taken off before the hour mark.

5 Brian Alainu’u’ese – 6
Primarily used as a distributor in the pack, but was industrious throughout the 80 minutes, particularly in defence.

6 Theo McFarland – 9
The Saracen had a busy first-half, making the most carries from either pack and did not relent in the second stanza. Provided some touches of brilliance, particularly when he was on the end of a Sopoaga cross-field kick. Not without some disciplinary issues, but his ball playing skills are pivotal to how Samoa play, not only in the loose but at the lineout as well. Is there a more skilful forward in world rugby?

7 Fritz Lee – 8
Huge defensive contribution with a high tackle count during the hour he was on. Won a penalty at the breakdown before half-time which gave his side another chance to launch an onslaught on England’s line and pulled off a vital pressure-relieving penalty following a Ben Earl break to stultify any momentum built by England in the second-half.

8 Steven Luatua – 6
Some flashes of real class from the former All Black, although was probably outshone his by back-row teammates. There is no shame in that, however, given how well they played.

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Replacements:
16 Seilala Lam – 6
Didn’t put a foot wrong in the final quarter, but could not make the same impact Malolo was able to make.

17 James Lay – 5
Gave away a needless penalty within moments of coming on as England started to claw their way back into the match.

18 Paul Alo-Emile – 5
Like his fellow substitute prop, gave away another needless penalty with a pointless high tackle but was handed a reprieve by Owen Farrell, who took too long to kick his penalty. He then proceeded to win a penalty from the resulting scrum. Added to his penalty count at the scrum not long after in a mixed display at the set-piece.

19 Sootala Fa’aso’o – N/A

20 Alamanda Motuga – 6
Entered the match when England were starting to get the upper hand, so had a tough job trying to arrest that momentum change.

21 Melani Matavao – 7
Was alert to pounce on the ball at the back of an England scrum in the shadow of his own posts, although the ball was immediately knocked on by a teammate.  A great break from his own 22 was the catalyst for a frenetic counter-attack in the final minutes.

22 Christian Leali’ifano – N/A

23 Miracle Faiilagi – N/A

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