Taylan May’s four-try haul set-up a mouth-watering Polynesian quarter-final showdown with Tonga as Samoa produced a ruthless performance in Warrington.
France simply had no response to Samoa’s poise and power as Stephen Crichton pulled the strings and added a nine-goal kicking display.
In sport timing is really everything and this is a ruthless Samoa team hitting their straps when it really matters at the Rugby League World Cup.
However, that’s also exactly what Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said after a 92-10 demolition of Cook Islands a few hours earlier.
Five years ago Samoa were tipped to make a big impression on the tournament only to lose to Tonga and Australia and draw with Scotland, triggering a brutal inquest about what went wrong.
This time around they promised they’d learned their lesson – arriving in England brimming with confidence, with eight players from the NRL Grand Final in their ranks.
The bookmakers even made them favourites to beat the hosts in the opening match in Newcastle only for Shaun Wane’s side to inflict a sobering 60-6 defeat.
Coach Matt Parish demanded a response and got one with a 72-4 win over Greece and this was another serious step up.
And that means his side will be back at Warrington for a last-eight date with Mate Ma’a Tonga that you won’t want to miss – Sipi Tau vs Siva Tau and something’s got to give.
Salford’s in-form Tim Lafai opened the scoring after just three minutes before Crichton’s assist set-up Brian To’o to double the advantage.
Samoa’s hits were crunching, rocking their French rivals – a team packed with plenty of Super League talent – on and off their heels.
Parish boasts a team rich in talent too, with Roosters star full-back Joseph Suaalii adding the magic dust and creative sparkle.
However this was a night for May, who just a few weeks ago watched his Penrith team-mates claim their second straight Grand Final from the stands with a hamstring injury.
May then scored a hat-trick in the space of 19 first-half minutes, the pick a brilliant break from 40 metres that left wannabe French tacklers flailing in his jet-charged fumes.
The flying winger then added another after the break as Danny Levi’s line break split the French line again while To’o – who gained over 200 metres in a stand-out show – grabbed his second.
France’s Catalans winger Fouad Yaha missed the match with England but ensured this wouldn’t be a shut-out, pouncing as Samoa’s resolve finally broke.
Anthony Milford, back from suspension, pounced on Matthieu Laguerre’s error to increase the advantage while Lafai, who has put his career back together in England’s north-west after his release from the NRL, added a second.
And, in an ominous statement of intent that featured Penrith’s Jarome Luai as a chief architect, Samoa underlined their ruthless mindset with further late scores from Chanel Harris-Tavita and Milford.
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