Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow scored a double on debut as Australia emulated last year’s Rugby League World Cup final victory over Samoa.
In a moment of madness, Canterbury football boss Phil Gould was left gobsmacked after Samoa young gun and Storm winger Sualauvi Fa’alogo was denied a stunning try in the 50th minute.
AS IT HAPPENED: Pacific Championships 2023
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Fa’alogo chipped over the top of James Tedesco to score as Samoa trailed.
However, the Bunker soon took a second look before judging that forward Keenan Palasia knocked the ball on in the lead-up to the try.
Before the Bunker intervened Gould was in awe: “That is special”.
Thus, he was not happy seeing the try scratched off.
“Have a night off … it’s disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful,” he told Nine’s coverage.
Payne Haas opened the scoring following some crafty work from Ben Hunt downfield.
Hunt shifted through the middle before finding Isaah Yeo who put Haas through a hole to score.
Moments later, the Kangaroos were in again through Hunt.
Off the back of a scrum, Hunt found Cameron Munster who put James Tedesco on the outside of Izack Tago, easing the skipper over.
Hunt continued to have a hand in tries as the hooker maneuvered the ball to the line to put Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in front of multiple defenders. Fa’asuamaleaui then crashed over.
Cameron Murray added to Australia’s commanding lead before Samoa finally responded through Murray Taulagi in the 18th minute.
A short side play late in the set found Luciano Leilua in the centres who grubbered close to the line, setting up Taulagi to ground the ball.
On the brink of half-time, Tabuai-Fidow bagged his first as a short drop-off from Daly Cherry-Evans was first batted towards Harry Grant before hitting the Dolphins’ speed machine.
Tabuai-Fidow beat several defenders to get clear inside his own 50 metre line. From there, it was all over as he sprinted away and secured a 26-6 lead at the main break.
Watch the Kangaroos in the 2023 Pacific Championships on Nine and 9Now.
Fa’alogo tried to lift his side with a try but was denied before Tabuai-Fidow scored his second.
Grant kept Samoa’s defence guessing before an exchange of hands allowed the centre to go over.
Despite being off the pace, Samoa scored a thrilling try through Leilua in the 72nd minute.
A quick sequence down the left-hand side found Taulagi with enough space to beat several defenders before dishing off to Leilua inside.
Leilua then muscled his way past Hunt to score.
Fitting in one last try before the hooter, Kotoni Staggs added a try to his performance on debut.
A crafty kick from Cherry-Evans in behind Samoa’s defence set Staggs up seconds before full-time.
Staggs finished the match with 14 points, including five conversions from seven attempts.