Samoa are set for a rematch with England in the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup.
It won’t be as easy as it was when they met in the opener and England ran in tries for fun against Samoa with Matt Parish’s team showing their class to defeat Tonga today.
The difference was perhaps star fullback Joseph Suaali’i who powered through to create the position for what was ultimately the winning try for Brian To’o.
This led to England skipper Sam Tomkins describing him as Samoa’s “main man” revealing that he escaped the clutches of seven tacklers, half the team, to go through.
Meanwhile, Jon Wilkin described him as a “world class athlete.”
As Samoa’s main threat, just his presence can lead to opportunities for other players as Tomkins broke down when analysing Samoa’s first try through Jaydn Sa’u: “Although he doesn’t touch the ball there, it shows how good of a player he is that he’s making defenders change how they defend without touching the ball, he’s the clear threat.”
That said, the veteran fullback broke down an area in Suaali’i’s game which let Samoa down today when analysing Tonga’s first try: “At fullback you’ve got to defend your line and decide how many defenders go each side at this point in the game he sent six players left and only four to the right plus himself which is the wrong decision because they have two ball players on that side.
“It’s wrong numbers and he’s put the defence under some pressure.”
This led to Wilkin saying that as a 19-year-old who hasn’t been playing fullback all season, Suaali’i is a little naïve in some areas: “He’s showed some naivety about the nuances of the fullback role. Those will come with time.”