Wales head coach Robin McBryde was full of praise for his players after they overcame a brutal sickness bug to seal a 19-17 victory over Samoa.
More than 10 of McBryde’s squad were struck down by vomiting and diarrhoea ahead of the clash in Apia and captain Jamie Roberts was among those who were ill at half-time in the Pacific Island nation.
Some, but not all, of Wales’ touring party were laid low by the virus in the days leading up to the game and it also affected members of Wales’ backroom staff. It made the win all the more impressive as a young side came from behind to win against a full-strength Samoan outfit.
Delighted boss McBryde said: “It has been a very difficult tour in such a short space of time. Tonga in Auckland was tough and you can’t underestimate the situation we were in here in Samoa.
“Conditions were poor for both teams and we’ve had a little bit of illness in the camp. The boys could have used that as an excuse, but they dug in so deep. I’m just so pleased for the players.”
Roberts and fullback Gareth Anscombe were two of those to really suffer with illness. The cause of the bug remains a mystery at this stage.
Wales have been based at the Sheraton Hotel in central Apia which has a reputation as one of the best resorts in the country. Despite still struggling both before and during the game, Wales were impressive winners in Samoa.
Steffan Evans’ two second-half tries sealed the win and ensured McBryde’s men made it back-to-back successes following last Friday’s 24-6 victory over Tonga in Auckland.
Tries from Alapati Leiua and Manu Leiataua had looked like giving Samoa the win, but Evans’ last-gasp effort turned the tables on the home side.
The Scarlets winger showed the sort of predatory try-scoring instincts that made him such a success for the Guinness PRO12 title winners last season by crossing for two superb finishes.
Fly-half Sam Davies ended the game with nine points courtesy of three penalties.
McBryde added: “We put ourselves in a very difficult position. We were 10-0 down early on and Samoa didn’t disappoint. We knew they would be physical and get stronger and they did that.
“We didn’t help ourselves and hurt ourselves on a couple of occasions, but the way the boys dug in and got through the arm wrestle was fantastic. That’s where the experienced members of the touring party like Jamie and Gareth took the lead. For them to be guiding this team through those difficult periods helped us get across the line.”
Two wins from two this summer without 12 of their best players who are on duty with the British & Irish Lions represents a real success story for Wales.
“For an inexperienced front five to go up against a fully-loaded Samoan pack was impressive,” McBryde added.
“The half backs controlled things in that weather and we left a few tries out there. We could quite easily have scored before half-time and the boys had the luxury of making a few mistakes and still winning as well. We’re delighted.”