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Rugby League World Cup: Samoa too strong for France in Perpignan
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Samoa will play Fiji in the quarter-finals of the Rugby League World Cup following a 22-6 victory over France in Perpignan on Monday night.
The scores were level at six apiece at half time, but three second-half tries from the Samoans means losers France will now meet England at Wigan's DW Stadium on Saturday.
Morgan Escare's first-half score cancelled out Daniel Vidot's earlier opener for the ill-disciplined Samoans, however, they were much improved after the break. Anthony Milford, Pita Godinot and Junior Moors touched down in the second half to clinch the success.
Samoa took the lead after only three minutes with a try from right winger Vidot but the first half will best be remembered for the ferocious hits from the Pacific Islanders, many of them illegal, which infuriated the 11,576 crowd at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Referee Henry Perenara, who struggled to control of the game, showed leniency in placing Leeson Ah Mau and Sue on report after unfortunate scrum-half William Barthau was flattened off the ball twice in as many minutes inside the first quarter.
Barthau was sensibly withdrawn from the firing line, although he was able to return in the second half.
Perenara eventually produced a yellow card after substitute Mose Masoe, St Helens' major new signing for 2014, caught stand-off Thomas Bosc late with a shoulder charge.
The French refused to be intimidated, however, and they took advantage of the extra man to draw level on 31 minutes.
Catalan Dragons full-back Escare, who has managed to take his exceptional Super League form into the World Cup, took Jean-Philippe Baile's pass and wrong-footed the Samoan defence to score France's second try of the tournament.
Bosc's goal levelled the scores but Ben Roberts, who became the third Samoan player to be put on report for a "spear" tackle, fluffed a glorious tryscoring chance just before the break when he ruined a two-man overlap by sending out a forward pass.
The Samoans looked to have re-asserted their authority when the excellent Milford weaved a way through the French defence to score their second try within five minutes of the restart and his second conversion made it 12-6.
But France played with spirit and determination and Baile and Vincent Duport both went desperately close to scoring before centre Joseph Leulua's offload created a try for stand-off Pita Godinet on the hour.
Still the battling French came back, with Escare denied by an ankle tap and Sebastien Raguin brought down just short of the line while Samoa left winger Antonio Winterstein had a try disallowed by video referee Shayne Hayne for obstruction.
With their discipline under control, Samoa were clearly the better team and they wrapped up the scoring with a fourth try through substitute Junior Moors six minutes from the end, with man of the match Milford kicking his third goal.