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Samoa hold on to beat USA at Pacific Nations Cup

Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Samoa inflicted an early psychological blow over opening Rugby World Cup opponents USA with a hard-fought 21-16 victory in the Pacific Nations Cup.

The two nations face off at Brighton's Community Stadium in their opening Pool B fixture on September 20.

The visitors, who lost 25-16 to New Zealand in their historic Test in Apia earlier this month, held a comfortable 21-3 lead at the interval but were made to work for victory in the second half.

Patrick Faapale struck with three first-half penalties for Samoa, while Eagles debutant AJ MacGinty - handed his first Test start at fly-half by head coach Mike Tolkin - slotted between the posts to ease any nerves.

However, good work from Ahsee Tuala allowed Alesana Tuilaga to break through and claim the opening try of the match, with Faapale converting for a 16-3 lead. Tuilagi returned the favour shortly after; his quick-thinking to chip the ball down the line allowed Tuala to ground for a comfortable lead in front of the 10,017-strong crowd at San Jose's Avaya Stadium.

A further two penalties from MacGinty cut into Samoa's lead after the break, before Titi Lamositele finally crashed through the Samoan defence for the Eagles' first try. That set up a frantic finish, with the USA piling on the pressure in search of another try, but Samoa held firm to clinch victory.

The earlier Pacific Nations games saw Japan hammer Canada 20-6, while Fiji fought back to beat Tonga 30-22 in the tournament opener in Suva - the only match to be played in the Pacific.