Parish: We must regroup now
Coach Matt Parish is trying to manage his injury-ravaged Samoa squad carefully with bodies few and far between as they head into the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
A last-eight spot was all but assured by way of a 38-4 victory over Papua New Guinea in Hull, taking the spoils in what was effectively a shoot-out for the last qualifying place in Group B.
An Antonio Winterstein hat-trick and impressive displays from Anthony Milford and Sia Soliola were at the heart of the win, and Parish needs to make sure they and the rest of his 17 players from the clash stay healthy.
The former Salford man was only able to name an 18-man squad for the game owing to the amount of injuries he is dealing with and, with no replacements allowed, he must make sure no more drop out ahead of a quarter-final clash with either England or Fiji.
"We have to regroup now and manage them in training as we can't afford any more injuries," he said.
Parish has lost Frank Winterstein to a tournament-ending injury and said he expects announcements to be made about the fitness of captain Harrison Hansen and the versatile Rene Maitua over the coming days.
Away from the injuries, though, Parish has plenty to smile about with his men looking light years away from the side hammered by the England Knights in a pre-tournament warm-up.
"I'm very pleased and I said all along that as the tournament goes on we will improve," he said.
"Our first-half performance was as good as any other team in this tournament so far. I thought we played very well and to win a World Cup game 38-4 showed outstanding defence.
"The first half really was outstanding and we will look to improve as the tournament continues."
For Papua New Guinea, the prospect of a second World Cup without a win is now a real one, with this defeat added to one against France and a meeting with New Zealand ahead of them.
The Kumuls have not lived up to their reputation as entertainers and have just 12 points scored to their name, and coach Adrian Lam admitted they had failed to deliver.
"Our start was really poor and that was the number one priority in the week, to start well," he said. "Five out of the first six sets ended with an error, and that was a problem.
"One thing we have always done in Papua New Guinea is score points and we haven't done that. We didn't handle their size and they were too big and strong."
The former Wigan half-back does see cause for optimism, though, with he and Queensland coach Mal Meninga overseeing an overhaul of the entire game in the country.
"Politically we've been on our knees for the last five years, even though we're the only country where rugby league is the national sport," he said.
"What we now have in place is a high-performance programme and a five-year plan leading to the next World Cup.
"We want that to be a great year. We are building and, with Mal on board, we have someone to help and guide us.
"I would ask people to be patient. We will have had seven million watching at home who will be disappointed. But we know that wasn't good."