The hosts ran in 10 tries as Alapati Leiua, Melani Matavao (2), Jack Lam, Iosefa Tekori, Dwayne Polataivaia and a penalty try were added to Fidow’s treble. Ah See Tuala added 10 points with the boot, while Patrick Faapale came off the bench to kick a further two conversions.
Despite the margin of defeat, Germany’s work-rate cannot be questioned, and their commitment was rewarded with a second-half Jaco Otto double that briefly put pressure on Samoa. Raynor Parkinson, meanwhile, finished the match with five points from the kicking tee.
The visitors’ lack of experience against top opposition was telling, however, as the hosts secured a first win in 10 tests. The manner of their victory means that anything other than a resounding defeat in Heidelberg on 14 July will see them through to the World Cup in Japan next September.
Samoa began the game at Apia Park as heavy favourites, and signalled their intention early on as Ofisa Treviranus won a turnover from kick-off to put them on the attack.
Unsere @DRVRugby Auswahl verliert das Spiel in Apia gegen @manusamoa mit 66:15.— GermanRugbySupporter (@GER_Rugby_Fans) June 30, 2018
Bereits am 14.07.2018 um 16:00 Uhr findet in Heidelberg das Rückspiel statt.#DRVRugby #DRVRugbyXV #RugbyInternational #WirFuerD #SAMvGER #RoadToJapan #AllefürJapan #GoodHands #grs #EierzumFrühstück pic.twitter.com/tbV47Ah7Zb
Early scare for Samoa
Germany held out, however, and could have scored an early try had Steffen Liebig’s offload found the hands of centre partner Parkinson’s hands in the fifth minute.
The hosts survived that scare and having won the game’s first scrum two minutes later, scrum-half Matavao proved the catalyst for a seven phase move that ended in the opening try, scored by Leiua.
Tuala converted, before a Parkinson penalty cut Germany’s deficit to four points. Samoa had to wait less than two minutes to reaffirm their dominance, though, as Matavao took advantage of some slick handling from Tuala, Leiua and Sinoti Sinoti on the left wing to score his side’s second try.
Germany refused to give in, and launched an attack of their own on the Samoan line but Marcel Coetzee spilled possession within five metres of the line. And with just over 22 minutes of the first half gone Samoa scored their third try as Lam scuttled over from close range following good work from Joshua Tyrell and Matavao.
The hosts stretched their lead further within five minutes as Leiua punched a holed in the visiting defence before excellent handling from Tyrell set Fidow away to score his first try of the match in the right corner. The wing would notch his second before the break as he finished from close range.
Breaking...Germany knocked out of two World Cups in the same week. Samoa romped home 66-15 in Apia today (10-2 on tries) to clinch their place in Japan next year, unless they lose the return leg in Heidelberg by 52 points.— Peter Jackson (@JackoRugby) June 30, 2018
So far, so good for Samoa but it was Germany who finished the half on the front foot and they grew in confidence as they kept the match scoreless for the opening 10 minutes of the second period.
The resistance was broken by a penalty try, as their scrum crumbled under severe pressure from the attacking Samoans But undeterred the visitors found a second wind, and in the 58th minute Otto exploited a gap in the home defence before stepping past Tusi Pisi to score.
Matavao grabbed his second try minutes later, but when Otto went over for a brace of his own German fans would have been forgiven for dreaming of a late rally.
However, after replacement hooker Seilala Lam saw an effort chalked off by TMO Aaron Paterson – who deemed he had lost control before grounding – Tikori, Polataivaia and Fidow all crossed the whitewash in the final 10 minutes to add further gloss to the hosts’ victory.
Samoa head to Germany for the second leg knowing they can afford to lose by 50 points in Heidelberg and still progress to Japan.
The Pacific Islanders face a home-and-away play-off against Germany for a place in Pool A at Rugby World Cup 2019 alongside Ireland, Scotland, hosts Japan and Russia having competed in every tournament since their maiden appearance in 1991.
If they want to maintain that proud record, however, they must overcome a downturn in form. Since the last Rugby World Cup in England, Samoa have won just two of their 15 tests and welcome Germany to Apia on a run of nine successive defeats.
The most recent of these came earlier this month when Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua’s side warmed up for this qualifier with defeats to hosts Fiji and Tonga in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in Suva.
Germany coach Pablo Lemoine knows his side will still going into the match as underdogs, sitting 12 places below Samoa in 29th in the World Rugby Rankings going into the first leg.
“It will be a really tough game,” he said.
“Everyone has put a lot of pressure on those guys (Samoa) because the World Cup is really important for the country. We’re here to learn and to try to play the best game we can, but we know it’s a 160-minute game, it’s not 80.
“The ideal would be to score points and put pressure on Samoa. To wait to see what happens when they come back to Germany, because it will be difficult for them too.
Ahead of that meeting at Apia Park, Tafua has made seven personnel changes to the Samoa side that lost 28-18 to Tonga two weeks ago.
The vastly experienced Logovi’i Mulipola, Motu Matu’u and Paul Alo-Emile return to the front row, while Joshua Tyrell joins captain Chris Vui in the second row and veteran number eight Ofisa Treviranus forms the back row alongside Piula Faasalele and Jack Lam.
In the backs Melani Matavao is given the nod at scrum-half, Paul Perez switches to outside-centre and Ed Fidow is named on the right wing.
If you’re a German football fan and still fancy a bit of World Cup action then rugby welcomes you with open arms.@DRVRugby play Samoa on Saturday at 15:10hrs (GMT+13) in the first of their Rugby World Cup qualifying matches.— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) June 27, 2018
Two games. Winner overall will head to #RWC2019! pic.twitter.com/MMaiJ0PBOb
Germany arrived in Apia this week without Ayron Schramm, who picked up a facial injury in their 16-13 European play-off victory over Portugal, and his place in the back row has been taken by Marcel Henn.
Second-row Timo Vollenkemper also comes into the forward pack, while Sebastian Ferreira switches to number eight.
A backline that failed to fire against Portugal a fortnight ago has been reinforced, with Christopher Hilsenbeck starting at fly-half, Steffen Liebig named at outside-centre, Nikolay Klewinghaus included on the left wing and Maxine Oltmann moved to full-back.
Following a week in which their footballing counterparts were knocked out of their World Cup in Russia, Lemoine reiterated that Germany would not have made the 38-hour trip to Samoa had they not believed they could progress to next year’s tournament in Japan.
“There is hope, because we can find many mistakes they (Samoa) have made but we still know it will be a really difficult game,” he said.
This tie does not represent the last chance for Samoa and Germany to qualify for Japan 2019, however, with the loser following the return leg on 14 July heading into the four-team global repechage tournament in November.
And from Lemoine there is an understanding that his team can only grow with continued exposure to more competitive teams.
Die #DRVRugbyXV hat dem #Samoa College in #Apia einen Besuch abgestattet, Bälle überreicht und mit den Schülerinnen und Schülern #Rugby gespielt. Tolle Geste, die bei allen Beteiligten sehr gut ankam und viel Freude bereitete. #DRVRugby #RWC2019 #goodhands #rugbybuildscharacter pic.twitter.com/MveDZbNqx0— DRVRugby (@DRVRugby) June 26, 2018
“We know Samoa is one of the best tier two countries, and we know the potential they’ve got,” he said. “But we have to learn about that level and try to play our best.
“After that, the games are always the games, you never know what might happen. But the idea is to work really hard in the first game, really hard.
“We will prepare a good programme and a good project for the future, because German rugby doesn’t start and finish on Saturday. There has to be an idea for a long-term programme.”
Simba Head Coach Ian Snook expects Zimbabwe, coached by Peter de Villiers, to pose a different kind of challenge when the two sides face off in Rugby Africa Gold Cup action at the RFUEA Ground on Saturday June 30.
Speaking at a news conference to unveil his match day 23 on Thursday morning, Snook said, “Zimbabwe bring a different challenge in that they are a fast, speedy side on the outside and are big and strong upfront.”
“They’ll pose a slightly different challenge to what we had in Morocco. We are anticipating a fairly strong game from them.”
Kenya overcame Morocco 28-24 in Casablanca last time out.
Commenting on the return of Isaac Adimo and Darwin Mukidza’s positional switch, Snook said, “Isaac wasn’t available last week because of exams…he’s back and starts at 10.”
“Obviously we thought Darwin had a really good game at first five…we think he can play well at second five as Leo Seje is out injured.”