George and Thomas Burgess’ England side have claimed the first victory of the 2014 Four Nations Tournament, defeating a dangerous Samoan side in a tight encounter by 32-26 at Suncorp Stadium.
Both sides traded the lead throughout the course of the 80 minutes, with the Samoans showing plenty of fire and attacking prowess before going down in the final 12 minutes of the match.
Two early penalties to the Samoans put the side in prime attacking position inside the first two minutes of the match, and five eighth Ben Roberts almost opened the scoring when he carried two English defenders just short of the try-line.
It was all Samoa in the opening exchanges with the side attacking the English line with purpose. It took 10 minutes for the red and whites to get into good field position, but the opportunity would ultimately be blown thanks to poor ball-handling.
Twenty minutes into the match, England’s Man of Steel Daryl Clark raced out from dummy-half with his first touch of the ball before stepping through Samoa’s David Fa’alogo, drawing in Tim Simona and passing on to Michael Shenton to finally open the scoring. Gareth Widdop converted from out wide to make it 6-0 in favour of the English.
Despite the Samoans sailing the kick-off over the dead-ball line on the full, the side quickly recovered five minutes later to score under the posts through Isaac Liu. Kyle Stanley converted to equalise the match at six apiece.
The Samoans then mounted a thrilling attacking play that sawn Daniel Vidot finish off the movement in the corner for the side to take the lead. Stanley sprayed the conversion attempt to leave the score at 10-6 in Samoa’s favour.
England hit back though in the 34th minute when an Englaind back-line movement saw the ball go through the hands before hitting centre Kallum Watkins on the chest to score out wide and equalise. Widdop added the extras to take the lead 12-10.
The ensuing kick-off saw the Samoans again penalised, this time for being off-side with England having another crack at the line – Thomas and George Burgess both coming close to scoring.
A penalty just before half-time thanks to a dangerous tackle made by Josh McGuire allowed Gareth Widdop to boot England four points clear at 14-10 going into the sheds.
Six minutes into the second half, Liam Farrell capped off some positive English pressure building by striding over to extend their lead, with Widdop making it 20-10.
Samoa weren’t done yet though, with Pita Godinet throwing a massive dummy from the ruck that the English defensive line fell for, allowing the replacement hooker to stroll through untouched next to the sticks. Stanley converted to make it 20-16.
Godinet was at it again mere minutes later when the hooker again raced from dummy-half to dive over the try-line out wide to level the match up – setting up a pressure kick for Ben Roberts 10 metres in from touch. Roberts made no mistake to take the lead 22-20 over England.
Joel Tomkins hit back for England when he took a ball batted back from Michael Shenton to re-take the lead. Widdop added the extras from right in front to make it 26-22.
Just minutes later, a failed bomb diffusion from Tim Simona eight metres out from Samoa’s own line saw Sam Tomkins pick up the pieces before reaching out to score under the posts with Widdop adding the extras to make it 32-22 with 12 minutes remaining.
Samoa weren’t dead though, with Antonio Winterstein taking advantage of an overlap after a Sam Tomkins failed bomb diffusion, scoring to make it 32-26.
England 32 (Michael Shenton, Kallum Watkins, Liam Farrell, Joel Tomkins, Sam Tomkins, tries; Gareth Widdop 6 goals)
Samoa 26 (Isaac Liu, Daniel Vidot, Pita Godinet 2, Antonio Winterstein, tries; Kyle Stanley 2, Ben Roberts 1 goals)