We kept the Four Nations alive: Parish
Toa Samoa coach Matt Parish believes his side has "kept the Four Nations alive" after their gallant showings in the tournament was ended against Australia on Sunday evening.
Despite a mini-comeback midway through the second half where they scored back-to-back tries through Ben Roberts and David Fa'alogo, the Samoans eventually fell 44-18 against a fluent Kangaroos attack that flexed their muscles in front of a crowd of 18,456 in Wollongong.
And while the seventh-ranked rugby league nation departs their first major competition without a win, Parish was proud of a side that went close to defeating England and New Zealand in their first two games.
"But you look at today's game and the thing I'm proud about are the guys that we've got on the team," he said post-game.
"The way we've responded, I think we've kept the Four Nations alive. You saw so many Samoan people today, the support we've got. Unfortunately if we could've stayed within a try of them most of the game, it would've lifted our blokes and perhaps made a bit more of a game of it but unfortunately we couldn't do that. The Australians were too good.
"But again it's been a great tournament. We've had a great time, we've enjoyed it, and guys have played really well in our team."
The competition underdogs were an outside chance of making next week's final in Wellington but their hopes were immediately dashed when the home side took full advantage of an early 5-1 penalty count against the visitors.
Centre Joseph Leilua was pinged for three of them inside the first 20 minutes.
"What happened was they just got out of their end too easy. If you look at where their penalties were, they were all coming off their own end," Parish said.
"They were probably legitimate penalties but they got out of their own end too easy and had plenty of energy up our end where we were zapped.
"But if you take the first 20 minutes and probably the last five, I think we were in the contest for most of the game then. Easier said than done though, isn't it?"
Parish singled out skipper David Fa'alogo and veteran Frank Pritchard for their willingness to play major minutes after their long NRL campaigns.
"I can go through a number of them," he said. "I think Dave as skipper, him and Frank, they've played massive minutes in this tournament which they haven't done for their clubs last year. And they've certainly led the way on and off the field and they've been a pleasure to work with."
The former Eels and Raiders assistant was also impressed with the campaign of Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona, who spent the entire tournament in the unfamiliar role of fullback.
"Tim Simona played out of position and I think he's been great at fullback in the whole tournament. Tough position fullback, especially when you have them balls swirling around," he said.