Everything nearly went according to plan.
Until Fiji Bati staged an amazing comeback yesterday to upstage Toa Samoa, 20-18, spoiling Rugby League Samoa’s 30th anniversary party.
As much as the patriotic crowd at Apia Park tried to chant “Toa, Toa, Toa” to lift their team in the dying seconds, it didn’t matter much. Fiji had found their rhythm and with their tails up on the scoreboard, they didn’t look back.
But it took guts and courage for the Bati to earn the win.
Down 18-0 with three quarters of the game to go, it looked as if Toa Samoa was heading for not only a famous victory but a very comprehensive one too.
But rugby league is an 80-minute game, something Toa Samoa would do well to remember next time. In what was the first official Test match in Samoa, Sam Kasiano gave the home team the perfect start, crashing over for the first try.
Mathew Wright added the conversion and Samoa was away, 6-0. Ken Maumalo then scored a double which were both converted and Samoa looked to be cruising home at 18-0.
But Fiji was not done.
They hit back with two tries just before the half time break, before finally stealing the lead and securing the win with the only try in the second stanza.