With the 2017 Toa Gas Matson Rugby League 9s well underway, its third leg completed Saturday 30th September with Letava walking away with a nailbiting win 10-6 against Marist Saints who are continuously dominating the competition.
The Big Island of Savaii played host with its spectacular weather proving to be four seasons in one day. This only strengthened the resolve of the ten competing teams with 4 from Upolu and 6 based in Savaii.
This year’s competition sees the introduction of Sa’asa’ai Eels, Gataivai Dragons and Faleula Scorpions. The newcomers have made their mark with spectacular wins against the more developed sides. One such game witnessed Gataivai Dragons narrowly missing out on the chance to topple the dominant Marist Saints in the second round finals.
On field brilliance by Letava Bulldogs (Upolu) saw them edge out Marist Saints to take the third round.
Notably the Bulldog halfback Vaalele was the key play maker and generously assisted in them securing the win. Iva White Lions a qualified stalwart pooled against the Saints in the semi-final, but sizing against its opponent proved futile for the Lions. With the Lions pipped out from the finals, this gave them a chance to atone for third place, however it would not be with Faleula Scorpions showcasing its younger players who quickly out mobilised the much bigger pack of the Lions.
Visibly outdone by agility and good feetwork. Amoa Bulldogs (Savaii) also recorded a draw, win and a loss with similar standings for Gataivai Dragons and Sa’asa’ai Eels who were unable to retain their game lead against the Saints this week. Discipline is visibly one of the aspects that is making the difference between the teams, and the more well-formed and solidified teams are utilising this as an advantage.
A key element the boys in the Big Island will need to develop for the betterment of their teams and the sport as it continuous to grow with immense interest from the local villages. With the attendance of members of the board at each leg thus far, this has gained local respect from various village councils, whom are showing a high interest in pushing their youth towards a well suited sport for the Polynesian athlete.
With the upcoming local White Sunday holiday, the teams have been given a 2 week reprieve to rejuvenate and prepare for the fourth leg.
The fourth round will be hosted by Savaii as part of Rugby League Samoa’s development plan for the growth of the sport. With the enablement of the Savaii 9s to include teams from Upolu, this has allowed for the well-established clubs from Upolu to impart learning and skills that will only make the teams in Savaii better and will prove to be a good threat for the mainland based clubs.
The final standings after the third round of the Toa Gas Matson Rugby League 9s;
Letava Bulldogs (Upolu)
Marist Saints (Upolu)
3rd place: Faleula Scorpions (Upolu)
Iva White Lions (Savaii)