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Ireland have emerged at the top of Pool C with a dominant 34-16 win over a lacklustre Samoan side at Parramatta Stadium tonight.
Samoa started the match full of running and dominated field position for the first ten minutes but were denied an opening try on two occasions by correct video referee rulings. Ireland gained plenty of confidence from their early defensive efforts and quickly turned the screws on their more fancied opponents with three quick tries in a seven minute passage to open up a surprise 14-0 lead. The second try was a beauty, started by a nice Bob Beswick break out of dummy half and finished off by lock forward Simon Finnigan, who played strongly throughout. Tries to Samoan captain Nigel Vagana and replacement Misi Taulapapa closed the margin to just 2 points before Pat Richards added a penalty goal for a 16-12 halftime scoreline.
Ireland began the second half in the best way possible with a second try to winger Pat Richards, who eventually finished with a 22-point haul that sees him join other illustrious names in World Cup scoring history. Samoa had their comeback attempts cruelled by injuries to Lagi Setu and, more crucially, Nigel Vagana - leaving their stuttering attack to the mercy of the strong Irish defence.
Irish halfback Liam Finn sealed the victory with a 71st minute try, and while Samoa were able to peg back a consolation try shortly afterwards it was a case of too little too late from the pre-game favourites. Pat Richards provided a fitting conclusion by bringing up his third try inside the final minute of the match.
Ireland will now go on to play the winner of Pool B for a semi-final spot, and providing they can get their discipline into order there