Preview: Samoa v Wales

Samoa will be hungry to produce a more competitive display than in Auckland when they face an inexperienced Wales side in Apia.

Early moments at Eden Park suggested that Samoa had enough to trouble the All Blacks at least marginally, before they dramatically fell away to a 78-0 defeat.

Were Samoa poor or were New Zealand just too good? The sense is that it was more a case of the latter, once the reigning world champions had shaken off that early rust, playing their first Test of the year.

Forgetting the scoreline, there was positives for Samoa, mainly the performances of Kahn Fotuali'i, Kieron Fonotia and Alaptai Leiua, who moves to the wing this week in a re-jigged backline.

Tim Nanai-Williams was an enormous threat last Friday but misses out this time, having faced the British and Irish Lions for the Chiefs on Tuesday, and his game-breaking ability will be missed after causing his cousin Sonny Bill Williams plenty of problems.

We know Samoa's backs can create magic but head coach Alama Ieremia will be looking for plenty of robust carrying upfront from the likes of Toulouse back-row Piula Faasalele and Chris Vui, coming off a good season with Worcester.

Two new caps wait on the bench for Wales meanwhile but there is only new start, Rory Thornton, the former Wales U20 captain once given their weighty tag of being the next Alun Wyn Jones.

Led again in Apia by Jamie Roberts, interim boss Robyn McBryde will hope that many of those coming off first caps from last week's win over Tonga will continue to thrive.

Eight of the 23 are set to win their second caps, including three of the tight five, while there is a first start for scrum-half Aled Davies as well in a side where Roberts has comfortably more experience than the rest of the side with his 92 caps compared to the rest of the starting XV's 59.

Those young players will learn a remarkable amount playing in a testing environment in Apia, especially against a physical Samoa outfit with a point to prove.

Players to Watch

For Samoa: Census Johnston very much remains Samoa's number one tighthead but he makes way this week for Paul Alo-Emile, the former Rebels prop once touted as a future Wallaby who wins his second cap and makes a first start for Samoa. Mobile around the park, Samoa will be hoping to see Alo-Emile get the better of Nicky Smith at scrum-time.

For Wales: Few wingers were more exciting in the PRO12 this season than Steff Evans, the rapid Scarlets flyer who honestly should have been called up during Wales' underwhelming Six Nations. Limited somewhat by the weather in Auckland, on a dry track we should see the best of Evans if play opens up.

Head-to-head: Two very contrasting scrum-halves in terms of experience. Kahn Fotuali'i can hold his head high after last week's match, doing his best to control territory and often at the heart of Samoa's best attacks. Aled Davies meanwhile, making his first Wales start, spoke this week about his frustration at not featuring in the Scarlets' PRO12 final win over Munster. A good performance here can more than make up for that from the 24-year-old.

Previous results: 

2012: Samoa won 26-19 in Cardiff
2011: Wales won 17-10 in Hamilton (RWC)
2009: Wales won 17-13 in Cardiff
2000: Wales won 50-6 in Cardiff
1999: Samoa won 38-31 in Cardiff
1994: Samoa won 34-9 in Moamoa
1991: Samoa won 16-13 in Cardiff
1988: Wales won 24-6 in Cardiff

The teams:

Samoa: 15 D’Angelo Leuila, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 David Lemi (c), 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Fata Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Galu Taufale, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1 Viliamu Afatia 
Replacements: 16 Seilala Lam, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Bronson Fotualii-Tauakipulu, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Tila Mealoi

Wales: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Cory Allen, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jamie Roberts (c), 11 Steffan Evans, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Scott Williams

Date: Friday, June 23
Venue: Apia Park, Apia
Kick-off: 19:30 local (06:30 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)

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