We should have won game, says Schwalger

IRELAND proved to be the big fish that wriggled off the hook on Saturday, at least according to Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger.

The New Zealand-based hooker was left to rue a missed opportunity to score a rare victory in Europe as the Pacific islanders were within three points of Ireland before Ronan O’Gara’s opportunistic try put the game beyond reach at the Aviva Stadium with 15 minutes to go.

Samoa had won just once in Europe in the last decade, defeating Italy in 2001, and 15 years ago they scored their only victory to date over the Irish at Lansdowne Road. However, Saturday did not join those great days in the Samoan rugby annals, much to their captain’s regret.

“We came here with the attitude that we can compete with these top teams and went out there and gave it all we have,” Schwalger said. “We should have won that game but that’s why these are top teams are up there - they make less mistakes and we’ve got to cut those out if we’re to be up there as well.”

Schwalger also hinted at that some dark arts from the Irish front row went unpunished by New Zealand referee Keith Brown, during a match in which scrum-time was particularly problematic with several resets throughout.

“I think Ireland got away with a few things and if the ref had been on our side a bit more, we would probably have had more points on the board,” Schwalger added. “We still had chances to win the game though, even in the last 10 minutes.

“Those last minutes were frustrating. Ireland were relying on their set pieces to dominate the game. I think they were surprised we came out there and fronted up in the set pieces.”

The islanders will prepare for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand on a budget handed to them by the International Rugby Board of just €400,000, but, as Ireland coach Declan Kidney pointed out, the Samoans turn into a formidable unit every time the tournament moves into view.

“We’re so proud of what we did out there and the only thing we can do now is to build from there,” Schwalger concluded, before adding that with lengthier preparation, they could “probably” have won the game.

“These top teams have more time and they’ve got the money to put their team together properly for three or four months, so yes, probably.”

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