Wales retains full starting XV for Samoa RWC match
Updated: September 16, 2011, 01:10
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HAMILTON, New Zealand(AP) Wales coach Warren Gatland is sticking with the same starting XV which lost by a point to World Cup champion South Africa for Sunday's crucial Pool D match against Samoa.
It marks the first time that Wales has not made a single change to its starting lineup between World Cup matches. Gatland is the first coach at the 2011 edition to retain his full starting team in back-to-back matches.
In the only change to the 22-man match squad which went down 17-16 to the Springboks last weekend, prop Gethin Jenkins replaces Ryan Bevington on the bench.
"We were extremely disappointed to lose last week against the Springboks,'' Gatland said. "But we did maintain momentum, with aspects of the performance providing a host of positive points to take into Sunday against Samoa. We have regrouped and the players are looking forward to getting back out on the pitch to largely pick up where they left off last weekend.
"There are one or two areas we know we need to work on, but we are looking for much of the same from all involved. We could not fault the effort, passion and commitment of the players last week, and we have simply said we are looking for the same again against Samoa.''
Wales missed late chances to edge South Africa in what would have been a major upset result, with fullback James Hook missing a penalty attempt and flyhalf Rhys Priestland failing with an attempted dropped goal.
The Welsh are wary of a Samoa lineup that has already scored an upset victory over Tri-Nations champion Australia this season. The Samoans, who have a history of upsetting Wales at the World Cup, opened the 2011 edition with a convincing 49-12 win over Namibia on Wednesday.
"Samoa are going to have a lot of support, as will Fiji when we come back to play them in the final game of our pool,'' Gatland said. "But we are hoping some of the Waikato people will be getting behind Wales as well.
"We played there on our summer tour of New Zealand last year and I told all of the players what to expect then. We all really enjoyed the experience and the welcome we had in Hamilton.''
Samoa coach Fuimaono Tufua made only one change to that team, with Ofisa Treviranus replacing Taiasina Tuifua on the blindside flank.
Wales: James Hook, George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Sam Warburton (captain), Danny Lydiate, Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Adam Jones, Huw Bennett, Paul James. Reserves: Lloyd Burns, Gethin Jenkins, Bradley Davies, Andy Powell, Tavis Knoyle, Scott Williams, Leigh Halfpenny.