Rugby World Cup
Samoa vs USA: Islanders determined to take advantage of kindest draw for 12 years
Nic Atkin
September 19, 2015
Are USA the future of rugby?

Samoa's chances of making it out of Pool B will likely depend on the outcome of their contest against Scotland, with South Africa expected to rule the roost, making the clashes against the USA and Japan crucial.

First up are the Eagles at the Brighton Community Stadium on Sunday, a team Samoa beat 21-16 in the Pacific Nations Cup in July, thanks to tries fro Ahsee Tuala and Alesana Tuilagi.

This looks to be the kindest draw Samoa have received in the last 12 years. They will be determined to take advantage and reach the knockout stages for the first time in two decades.

Having undergone something of a transformation since the last Word Cup, however, and with encouraging victories over Japan and Canada at the Pacific Nations Cup, the Eagles certainly won't be rolling over - they are targeting the quarterfinals of this competition.

Team News

Samoa coach Stephen Betham makes nine changes to the team that lost 39-29 to Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup final last month. Lock Kane Thompson is a notable absentee through suspension, having been sent off against the Barbarians, with Joe Tekori replacing him.

Alesana Tuilagi of Manu Samoa performs the Siva Tau
Alesana Tuilagi of Manu Samoa performs the Siva Tau© Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Captain Ofisa Treviranus is alongside Maurie Fa'asavalu and Jack Lam in the back row, while scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i and winger Tuilagi are the only two backs to keep their place in the side.

The USA make one change to the XV which was beaten 47-10 by Australia in Chicago two weeks ago, with Saracens lock Hayden Smith coming in and Cardiff's Cam Dolan dropping to the replacements.

Saracens' Chris Wyles captains the Eagles, with Takudzwa Ngwenya and Blaine Scully alongside him in the back three. New Toulon signing Samu Manoa is deployed by head coach Mike Tolkin at No. 8.

Samoa: Did You Know?
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Samoa:

Nanai-Williams, K. Pisi, Perez, Lee-Lo, Tuilagi, T. Pisi, Fotuali'i, Taulafo, Avei, Perenise, Paulo, Tekori, Fa'asavalu, Lam, Treviranus (captain).

Replacements: Afatia, Matu'u, Johnston, Levave, Faosiliva, Afemai, Stanley, Autagavaia.

USA:

Scully. Ngwenya, Kelly, Palamo, Wyles (captain), MacGinty, Petri, Fry, Fenoglio Lamositele, Smith, Peterson, McFarland, Durutalo, Manoa.

Replacements: Thiel, Kilifi, Baumann, Dolan, Barrett, Suniula, Niua, Thompson.

Key head-to-head

Manoa is undoubtedly the USA's star player, having moved to the French champions after four years with Northampton Saints, but will face a tough test up against Treviranus. 

Key stats

The Eagles have never beaten Samoa in four Tests, though all of their defeats have come by a margin of seven points or fewer. They met in the pool stages in 2007, with Samoa winning 25-21.

* Samoa have won their opening World Cup game on five of the last six occasions, having featured in every tournament since 1991.

* The USA have lost 18 of their 20 World Cup matches since winning their 1987 opener. 

Odds

Samoa are the overwhelming favourites at 1/10 with Unibet, and you can get odds of 6/1 for a USA victory, if you fancy an upset. Samoa with a -14.5 handicap at 8/11 could also be tempting.

Weather

It looks set to be a dry afternoon with warm spells and temperatures of up to 17 degrees Celsius in Brighton with, thankfully for those competing on the pitch, only light winds.

Prediction

The Eagles are feeling confident but Samoa should prove too strong here and run out with a comfortable victory.

Play ESPNfootytips Rugby World Cup Tipping

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