SUVA, Fiji — Flyhalf A.J. MacGinty kicked a penalty two minutes after the full time siren to give the United States a 13-10 win over Samoa Saturday which left them unbeaten after two rounds of the Pacific Nations Cup.
MacGinty contributed all of the United States’ points from a try, conversion and two penalties, controlling the game in wet and windy conditions.
Those conditions led to numerous handling errors by both teams which cost scoring chances. Both scored a single try but MacGinty’s three goals from as many attempts decided the match, rewarding the United States for heavy advantages of territory and possession in both halves.
Samoa scored the first try when winger Alapati Leiua ran onto an inside pass from flyhalf A.J. Alatimu to split open the United States’ defense in the eighth minute.
MacGinty wrested back the lead for the United States when he switched the line of attack from the right to the left side of an attacking scrum and beat the defense with players in support.
The United States took a 10-7 lead to halftime but Samoa drew level with a penalty to Henry Taefu in the 72nd minute.
A long period of pressure from the United States led to the final penalty which MacGinty kicked from close range.
“It was a really tight contest and I’m not sure either team deserved to lose,” United States captain Blaine Scully said. “It was an 80-minute arm wrestle. We’ll take a lot of lessons out of this match and hopefully work on them for next week.”
The United States beat Canada in their opening match and lead the tournament at the start of the second round.
Later, Fiji rebounded from their first-round loss to Japan to keep their defense of Pacific Nations Cup alive with a 38-13 win over Canada.
Fiji led 19-13 after a tight first half but tries to Peni Ravai and Josua Tuisova in the first eight minutes of the second half made the lead 31-13 and put the result beyond doubt. Mesulame Dolokoto scored Fiji’s sixth try 10 minutes before full time.
Viliame Mata, Peceli Yato and captain Leone Nakarawa scored first half tries for Fiji while Kainoa Lloyd scored Canada’s only try.