On a weekend when they face Australia in the Bledisloe Cup decider at Eden Park in what is Steve Hansen's th test match as head coach of the world champions, Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales, their opponents England and Ireland all have a chance to take on the mantle that they have held since 16 November, Similarly, an English victory in the Welsh capital by more than 15 points would see Eddie Jones' team rise to the top for the first time since June As for Ireland, the number-crunching shows that draws in Cardiff and Auckland, or an Australian win, would be enough for them to assume the number one ranking for the first time without even taking to the field.
It was the second week in a row that Samoa had come up agonisingly short, after their defeat by England in Brisbane.
With excellent ball security, strong running and committed defence, they led for the majority of the match. But the Kiwis, whose performance was well below what they produced in beating the Kangaroos in round one, got back to within two points midway through the second spell.
Both sides scored three tries, but Kiwi halfback Shaun Johnson landed the sole conversion.
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Samoa made a lively start, their forwards hitting the ball up with intent. But it was while the Kiwis were hot on attack that Samoa took a surprise lead in sixth minute, winger Tautau Moga intercepting a Hiku pass and scoring an metre runaway try.
The home struck back quickly, five-eighth Kieran Foran running into a hole and then forcing his way over. The Kiwis had their chances to strike back, but their execution let them down.
Up at the break, Samoa got their third try early in the second half through impressive centre Joey Leilua, who proved a handful for the Kiwis throughout. Leilua produced a big fend on Kenny-Dowall before touching down.