Ireland hold slim lead at the break

Ireland 13 Samoa 7

Ireland 13 Samoa 7

Ronan O’Gara helped Ireland establish a narrow lead in a competitive first half against Samoa at the Aviva Stadium.

O’Gara kicked two penalties and converted Jamie Heaslip’s 22nd-minute try, the Lions number eight finishing a series of forward drives.

Alesana Tuilagi completed a fine move from Samoa with Tasesa Lavea converting.

Samoa's Haka was greeted by a half-full Aviva Stadium with pre-match fears of another low attendance fully realised.

O’Gara settled Irish nerves with a penalty moments into the game but it was due to sound defence from Tommy Bowe their lead was not immediately overturned.

A fine tackle saw Bowe fell Tuilagi as the Leicester winger charged for the left corner, thwarting a strong attack from Samoa.

O’Driscoll ran down several blind alleys before knocking on, victim of some typically robust tackling from the South Sea Islanders.

It was a competitive, finely-balanced opening quarter that was lit up when Ireland broke from their 22 through side-stepping full-back Luke Fitzgerald only to eventually run out of options in support.

Their tails up, the Irish renewed the assault through their pack and were rewarded when a series of pick and goes concluded with Jamie Heaslip driving over. O’Gara converted.

Samoa’s response was emphatic with a second penalty against prop Tom Court at a scrum enabling them to set up a superb field position.

A great pick-up by fly-half Tasesa Lavea and rapid hands from Seilala Mapusua released Tuilagi who came marauding off his wing to cross under the posts with Lavea converting.

Ireland’s problems at the scrum continued, a five-metre attacking platform ending when referee Keith Brown decided Hayes was guilty of collapsing.

Ireland worked their way back into the opposition 22 with five minutes of the half remaining and, spying acres of space on the left, O’Gara expertly changed the point of attack but ruined his quick thinking with a stray pass to Paddy Wallace.

Samoa lacked urgency at times with their poor kicking foiling attempts to break from their 22.

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