Williams saves Wales

WALES (17) vs SAMOA (10)

Gatland’s men on course for Ireland clash after dodging World Cup upset

WALES captain Sam Warburton dedicated victory to the families of the four miners killed in last week’s accident in Pontardawe after his side took a major step towards the World Cup quarter-finals.

An upset loomed after Samoa went in 10-6 up at the break but a second-half try from wing Shane Williams rescued Wales from a devastating defeat and swept them to their first win of the campaign.

The result means Warren Gatland’s men are likely to reach the last eight, and a possible Home Nations clash with Ireland, if they win their remaining Pool D fixtures against unfancied Fiji and Namibia.

Warburton said: “We said if we lose we’re probably going home, so there was a lot of pressure on the boys and I’d like to dedicate the win today to the families of the miners back home. Our thoughts are with them.” In a nervy opening James Hook’s brace of penalties to Paul Williams’ one gave Wales a slim advantage, but their stubborn defence was eventually breached by prop Anthony Perenise to hand Samoa the advantage.

Hook’s departure saw Rhys Priestland assume kicking duties and he accepted two penalty chances to edge Wales back in front before Leigh Halfpenny’s surging break out of defence set up Williams to touch down 16 minutes from time.

“It was a tough match and I thought we showed some great character,” said head coach Gatland. “I thought we defended exceptionally well for most of the game.”

France coach Marc Lievremont was satisfied after seeing his side claim a second straight bonus-point win in Pool A with a 46-19 success over Canada. Vincent Clerc grabbed a hat-trick of tries and Morgan Parra scored 23 points with the boot. Lievremont said: “I was annoyed lastweek . I’m not going to be unhappy after every game. We got a bonus point, and that is just reward.”

Nick De Luca hopes Scotland can continue their hot streak against Argentina on Sunday and set up a World Cup Pool B decider with England. Andy Robinson’s men would then target victory against England on October 1 to finish top of the pool.

De Luca said: “Victory is essential. We want to go into the last game with six on the bounce.”