Full-back Anthony Milford was once again star of the show, and it was his try that gave Samoa a lead in the second half that they protected with some fierce defending, leaving France with just two tries to show for their three group games come the hooter.
After a full house was left disappointed by France‘s heavy defeat to the Kiwis last Friday, there were some early warning signs when Samoa cut open the home defence inside five minutes, Daniel Vidot cruising in on the right hand side after Ben Roberts‘ long pass had gone to ground.
As it was, it took some, at times illegal, Samoan aggression to stir up the passionate French crowd.
Half-back William Barthau was twice left shaken by late shots, both of which were put on report by referee Henry Perenara.
The force of the second left him unable to continue, and his replacement Tony Gigot came close to assisting an equalising score. His grubber kick on the last bounced up remarkably in the wind, and Frederic Vaccari and Vincent Duport got in each other’s way in chasing the ball to the corner.
Samoa‘s aggression finally caught up with them shortly before the half hour, when Mose Masoe went in late on Thomas Bosc, and earned a yellow card for his troubles, and the French took full advantage.
A third incident was placed on report shortly before the break, when Roberts tip-tackled Baile, much to the anger of the home crowd, and no doubt to the frustration of the International Match Review Panel, who are due a busy video session any time soon.
Samoa half Roberts was himself a cause of frustration, keeping hold of the ball twice either side of half time, when one more pass would have likely led to a four-pointer.
They did break through the French defence six minutes in to the second half, when Milford weaved his way through the line with some great footwork after taking a Masoe offload.
But then for 15 minutes, they faced a French onslaught. A kick by Barthau forced a drop out, and then Baile was denied a try when Antonio Winterstein dislodged the ball in a tackle over the line.
After seeing off four consecutive sets on their line, Samoa got their reward. Peta Godinet the beneficiary from some good work by Joseph Leilua, and his converted touchdown gave Samoa breathing space.
France still pressed, and it looked like exciting Escare might grab a score of his own, only to be denied by an ankle tap by Roberts.
France: Escare, Vaccari, Baile, Duport, Greenshields, Bosc, Barthau, Fakir, Pelissier, Casty, Larroyer, Raguin, Mounis. Interchanges: Gigot, Maria, Garcia, Simon.
Scorers: Tries – Escare (32) Goals – Bosc 1/1
Samoa: Milford, A Winterstein, Lafai, Leilua, Vidot, Godinet, Roberts, Fa’alogo, Sio, Matagi, Soliola, Ah Mau, Sue. Interchanges: Puletua, Moors, Taufua, Masoe.
Scorers: Tries – Vidot (5), Milford (46), Godinet (61), Moors (77). Goals – Milford 3/4
Venue: Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Photo courtesy of www.swpix.com