Samoa 25 United States 16
Samoa proved too strong for the United States as they got their World Cup campaign underway with a 25-16 victory.
Tries from Tim Nanai-Williams and Ofisa Treviranus, plus 12 points from the boot of Tusi Pisi, secured a win which was slightly unconvincing for a side with designs on a quarter-final place at least.
Brighton’s Amex Stadium had barely stopped reverberating following Japan’s historic success over South Africa less than 24 hours earlier.
But while there may have been a sense of ’after the Lord Mayor’s show’ on the south coast, the intensity on the pitch easily matched Saturday’s thriller.
Samoa’s Cardiff Blues-bound Rey Lee-Lo was an early casualty, taking a massive hit from opposition centre Thretton Palamo to bring his World Cup debut to an end after less than a minute.
And Samoa drew the first cheers from another near sell-out crowd when Pisi knocked over a penalty to open the scoring nine minutes into the match.
With Samoan pressure building and the USA frantically back-pedalling, the first try arrived in the 20th minute thanks to a neat grubber kick from Pisi.
The fly-half threaded the ball through the legs of American lock Samu Manoa and into the path of Nanai-Williams as he dived over the whitewash.
Pisi missed the conversion but found his range again from in front of the posts after the USA gave away another penalty following a sharp burst from Jack Lam.
The Eagles got on the board after half an hour after a neat running move, led by former Leicester man Blaine Scully, was halted illegally. They opted to shoot for goal rather than touch with AJ MacGinty doing the honours.
MacGinty then led the charge as the States sliced through the Samoan rearguard to cut their arrears further, Seamus Kelly taking over before feeding his captain, Chris Wyles of Saracens, for a slick try.
MacGinty could not convert, however, and another Pisi penalty saw Samoa go in 14-8 ahead at half-time.
Samoa edged further clear after the break, Alesana Tuilagi pouncing upon another kick in behind before setting up captain Treviranus in the corner.
Pisi and MacGinty exchanged further penalties and Michael Stanley added another for Samoa, before Chris Baumann got the ball over from underneath a pile of bodies to reduce the deficit to nine.
It was a valiant effort from the Eagles but ultimately not enough to halt a victorious Samoan side who have far tougher tests to come, not least in the shape of a wounded South Africa next weekend.