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Samoa looking for Warrington's World Cup support to help beat New Zealand
JUST like in 1995, Samoa’s players are hoping the Warrington crowd gets behind the underdogs on Sunday.
Both the Tongan team and those on the terraces at Wilderspool Stadium shocked New Zealand in the Centenary World Cup 18 years ago. Supporters became so endeared to the fighting spirit and passion shown by the islanders against a star-studded Kiwi outfit that chants of ‘Tonga, Tonga, Tonga’ echoed around the ground.
Old Warrington favourite Duane Mann, future Wolves signings Salesi Finau and Martin Masella were in the Tonga side that gave highly-fancied New Zealand the fright of their lives before a late Matthew Ridge drop goal settled the affair 25-24.
The Tongans were so appreciative of the Warrington reception that they performed another rendition of their haka after the final hooter as a mark of respect.
With the game having remained cherished in the memory banks of those who saw it, it will have played a part in strong ticket sales for Samoan’s turn to have a crack at the Kiwis in the first World Cup match to take place at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
And this time, Samoa have the advantage of already having won over many Warrington hearts since making the town its base for the tournament last week.
Sharing their culture with Warrington schoolchildren, their faith with the town’s residents and their smiles everywhere they go has already bagged them new fans.
After informing Samoa’s Penrith Panthers prop Mose Masoe of the events of that special occasion in Warrington’s sporting calendar in 1995, he said: “It would be awesome to have the supporters chanting ‘Samoa, Samoa, Samoa’.
“It would give us an extra lift, an extra 10 percent to get up and make a tackle.”
With not having the services of highly experienced packmen Roy Asotasi, Kylie Leuluai, Jeff Lima and Tony Puletua to call upon, as well as star threequarter Matt Utai, having the Warrington crowd on their side would at least be one bonus.
Their St Helens back rower Sia Soliola said: “It’s always awesome to get a lift from vocal noise.
“I think the atmosphere at The Halliwell Jones Stadium might be a bit new to some of the fellas, with the chanting over here, but they’ll soak it in.
“It’s a great stadium for a big game and I’m very happy the game is being played there.”
Both men expressed views that Samoa will be a much tougher proposition on Sunday in contrast to the 52-16 loss to England Knights at the weekend.