Samoa edged the USA Eagles 21-16 in an entertaining Pacific Nations Cup match in San Jose, surviving a strong second half comeback. Alesana Tuilagi was his usual menacing self, while Vavae Tuilagi, the 6th Tuilagi brother, made his debut.
Samoa scored all 21 points in the first half, with winger Alesana Tuilagi crossing for a well taken try after some neat footwork from fullback Ahsee Tuala set him up. He then turned provider with an excellent crosskick for Tuala following a great break up field.
The hosts, buoyd in front of a crowd 10,000 strong, pushed hard for their first win against Samoa in four attempts, and came close thanks to a 74th minute try by Titi Lamositele.
The Tuilagi family will be proud to have fielded yet another brother in Test rugby, the 6th, as French ProD2 player Vavae made his debut. He played at number eight, following in the footsteps of Samoan legend Henry, who clearly taught him a thing or two about big carries.
Vavae was with Leicester Tigers, as well as Narbonne, but now plays for US Carcassonne.
He and Alesana were both part of what would have been a memorable try, were it not for a courageous chase and hit by USA Sevens star, Danny Barrett. While there were questions asked about the legality of the try, referee JP Doyle brushed it off saying there was no TMO.
The Pacific Nations Cup runs from 18 July to 3 August with teams drawn in two pools of three in a round-robin competition, played at venues in Fiji, USA and Canada.
View the Alesana Tuilagi and Ahsee Tuala tries (on page two)
Alesana Tuilagi try
Ahsee Tuala try