12 Nov 2022
Parish revels in spoiling England's party
Samoa dumped the hosts out at the semi-final stage in stunning style
By Josh Graham at Emirates Stadium
Samoa coach Matt Parish revelled in his side’s never-say-die attitude as they silenced their doubters in stunning style to dump England out of the Rugby League World Cup.
Four weeks ago to the day, Parish fronted the media after his side capitulated to an embarrassing 60-6 defeat to the hosts in the tournament’s opening game.
Samoa were undercooked coming in but few could have predicted such a dramatic turnaround as England’s perfect tournament came crashing down in the seconds it took for Stephen Crichton’s golden point field goal to bisect the posts in the last act of this momentous semi-final.
Parish said: “It was inspirational, passionate what this team is all about. There's passion, pride, all that in the changing room. It's an unbelievable effort.
“A few things have gone against us, five guys have gone home, we are down to the bare bones. These guys keep turning up for each other they have got each other’s back.
“Plenty of people had plenty of things to say four weeks ago about planes home. The pride, belief and passion in this group is phenomenal.”
Samoa were an unrecognisable force from the side that downed tools at St James’ Park as their NRL Grand Final stars came to the fore to end England’s hopes of winning the trophy on home soil.
Jarome Luai’s dancing feet put the hosts in a tailspin all afternoon and he rightfully claimed the player of the match while his Penrith Panthers teammate Crichton crossed for two tries in a match-winning 15-point haul.
Samoa skipper Junior Paulo faces another anxious wait for potential disciplinary proceedings, having only been cleared for this game following a successful appeal, after his first-half sin-binning for a tip tackle on Tom Burgess.
The Paramatta Eels prop was one of seven Samoans to battle it out in the NRL Grand Final two weeks before the World Cup started and Parish was quick to praise his superstars.
He added: “I take my hat off to a large number of this squad. Especially these two [Paulo and Luai], they had a Grand Final about seven weeks ago.
“We still ask these guys for effort to turn up and play world class games and we are going up against a world class team next week [in Australia].
“It’s inspirational, to put Samoa in a World Cup final – a tiny little dot in the middle of the Pacific.”
Despite the vast majority of the 40,489 in attendance backing England, Parish praised the support his side have received on these shores which combined with his best players delivering in the clutch moments saw them become the first tier two side ever to make the World Cup final.
He said: “I think it’s incredible how much support Samoa had over here. The strategy with these guys is that they never gave up and they’ve got belief in what we are all about.
“Great players like these two [Luai and Paulo] win you big moments in games. We’ve got a lot of great players and they won the big moments.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets