US center Phillip Eloff had stopped Samoan wing Brian Lima in the open field just yards from the line, but the rangy Curtis was first to the tackle and pierced the defense for the converted, game-winning try.
American flanker Olo Fifita narrowly missed a potentially game-trying try at 73 minutes, cut down by Craig Glendinning's dramatic cover tackle a few strides from scoring. Eloff also might have leveled the count in injury time, but for an odd refereeing decision that stopped the center's openfield run for a penalty against Samoa.
Eagle center Juan Grobler leveled the scores at 12 10 minutes after halftime, while Samoan scrumhalf Joe Filemu was serving a 10-minute yellow-card suspension.
Filemu opened the scoring for Samoa at six minutes, finishing a 70-yard break down the right-hand sideline. The US then got on the scoreboard with a converted Kort Schubert try in the 23rd minute, but Vili stepped neatly through the US goalline defense moments later to put Samoa back ahead by 5 at the break.
The hosts dominated first-half possession but struggled to break through Samoa's speedy, hard-hitting defense. Samoa's team speed and experience told the tale in the second stanza.
4-1 Samoa claim their first title in the five-year history of the Pacific Rim. The loss drops the United States to 2-3 and fourth place in the six-team conference, one notch below last year's third-place finish. Of the original Pacific Rim nations--Canada, Japan, and the USA--the Eagles have been the best against the island nations since last year's expansion.
Final: Samoa 19 United States 12 (half: Samoa 12-7)
United States: Tries: Schubert, Grobler
Samoa: Tries: Filemu, Vili, Curtis
Cons: Vili (2)
United States: Kurt Shuman , Vaea Anitoni (Jovesa Naivalu), Philip Eloff, Juan Grobler, Malakai Delai; Grant Wells, Kevin Dalzell; Dave Hodges (captain), Kort Schubert, Olo Fifita, Luke Gross, Philippe Farner, Ray Lehner, Kirk Khasigian (Rob Flynn), Joe Clayton (John McBride).
© USA National Rugby Team
Scott Compton, Media Relations
Hudson Rugby Fieldhouse
Berkeley, California 94720 4426
phone 510.643.1971 / fax 510.643.2192