Fiji Warriors beat Samoa A for the third time this year to maintain their perfect record in the World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge.
The Warriors, who brushed USA Select XV aside on day one, did the double over Samoa A on their way to the World Rugby Pacific Challenge title back in April, and they remain on course for their second piece of silverware of the year after topping Pool B.
With Argentina XV also collecting maximum points for the second time in the tournament after an emphatic 71-7 win over Uruguay, Sunday’s game between the competition's two dominant teams will determine who lifts the trophy.
SAMOA A 26-39 FIJI WARRIORS
Ill-disciplined Fiji Warriors overcame the loss of two men to the sin-bin and a high penalty count to see off spirited Samoa A.
Samoa led 6-3 after two penalties from Patrick Faapale, their match-winning hero in the 44-42 win against Uruguay last weekend, to one in reply from Fiji’s Alivereti Veitokani.
With Fiji down to 14 men after lock Mesulame Kaunavula was yellow carded for a high tackle in the 12th minute, Samoa had a golden opportunity to extend their lead.
But their defence was found wanting while Fiji were short-handed, suspect tackling allowing number eight Erasmasi Rodrodgo and scrum-half Sakiusa Gavidi to cross for tries.
Shortly after Faapale had reduced the arrears to 15-9 with his third penalty, Fiji scored again through Iliesa Leca, flanker Vasikali Mudu making the initial bust before offloading to the hooker, who managed to stretch out to reach the line despite a despairing Samoan tackle.
Fiji lost a second man to the sin-bin, prop Joeli Veitayaki, on the stroke of half-time and Samoa were able to take advantage on this occasion, hooker Malcolm Tanielu scoring a try which Faapale improved for a half-time score of 22-16 to Fiji.
Fiji found themselves down to 13 men for six minutes of the second half when centre Eroni Vasiteri got on the wrong side of local referee Pablo de Luca and joined Veitayaki on the sidelines, and a fourth Faapale penalty closed the gap to three.
Fijian winger Apete Daveta and Samoan centre Ope Peleseuma exchanged tries before Veitokani kicked his second penalty to make it 32-26 to the men in white.
The game remained in the balance until Frederick Hickes scored with 12 minutes to go and Veitokani added the extras.
USA SELECT XV 47-37 CANADA A
USA Select produced an amazing second-half comeback to stun Canada A in the second game of the day.
Trailing 30-13 early in the second half, the Americans looked destined for a second straight defeat but they rallied magnificently, with the help of Ray Barkwill’s sin-binning, to score 34 unanswered points in a breathless passage of play.
Fly-half Ben Cima produced a flawless kicking display, mastering a tricky cross-breeze to land nine kicks out of nine for a 22-point personal haul, and the Maryland Unievrsity graduate had a hand in at least two tries.
Canada opened the scoring after Gordon McRorie struck an early penalty but the USA got the first try of the day when scrum-half Nick Boyer sniped over after a series of forward drives had softened up the Canadian defence.
Centre Doug Fraser charged through the middle as Canada found an almost instant response, before Cima temporarily gave his side a slender lead with his first penalty of the day.
Ben Lesage twice followed his centre partner over the line as Canada took command but Cima’s second penalty on the strike of half-time closed the gap to 10 at the break.
USA Select were made to pay for Jake Turnbull’s yellow card for collapsing the scrum, conceding seven points to Lucas Rumball’s converted try while the loose-head was off the field.
The game-changing moment came when Canadian hooker Barkwill joined him in the bin seven minutes later, the US backs profiting from the extra space on the field to run in four tries in the space of 13 minutes.
The scoring spree started when centre Martin Iosefo collected Cima’s neat inside ball when there was still two minutes left on the sin-bin.
No assistance was required by rampaging full-back Michael Te’o, whose hitch-kick completely bamboozled the Canadian defence and he went on a 30-metre arcing run to the line without a hand laid on him.
Amhad Harajly beat the cover defence to a grubber kick from Cima for the next try before Iosefo grabbed his second after a powerful hand-off from Brett Thompson had opened up the defence.
Cima made it 47-20 with a 75th-minute penalty, after flanker Matt Heaton had been carded, before lock Lucas Albornoz scored a late consolation for the shell-shocked Canadians.
ARGENTINA XV 71-7 URUGUAY A
Argentina XV proved too strong for a Uruguayan side that battled gamely to restore some pride in front of their home crowd at the Estadio Charrua after conceding seven unanswered tries in the first half.
Pool A leaders Argentina XV raced into a 26-0 lead in as many minutes after Domingo Miotti converted tries from Santiago Montagner, Cristian Bartoloni, Bautista Delguy and Gonzalo Bertranou.
Uruguay thought they had halted the flow of points against them when forcing their way over the line following a series of pick-and-goes, however the TMO ruled that the ball had been held up.
Hooker Facundo Bosch continued the scoring spree from a driven lineout on 32 minutes and there was still time for winger Julian Dominguez Widmer to dot down for a try that Miotti converted before referee Tim Baker blew for half-time.
Having made several substitutions at half-time, Uruguay came out firing and were rewarded with a 45th-minute try for winger Andres Rocco Lindholm, which Jeronimo Etcheverry improved.
Play inevitably became fragmented after both sides made wholesale changes, and there was no further scoring until Delguy grabbed his second on 65 minutes.
That prompted the floodgates to open again and winger Fernando Luna helped himself to two tries, either side of an effort from centre Juan Capello. Replacement kicker Juan Cruz Gonzalez was on target with all three conversions.