As our Toa Samoa took on a mighty Tongan side last Saturday during the Pacific test, we were reminded once again that our hard working Toas won’t let us down.
Through a grueling, hard hitting match which kept everyone on the edge of their seats, we saw a desperate attempt by the Tongans to build on their early 6 point lead but to no avail.
With the Tongans controlling most of the ball possessions during the match, our boys in blue showed superb defensive skill keeping the Tongans at only 6 points throughout the match while adding to their own scores.
“We had a great week’s preparation and our lead up to the game was as good as I have been involved with in my time at Samoa,” Toa Samoa’s head coach Matt Parish said during an interview with Samoa Observer.
“The game itself was an outstanding defensive effort; we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and through some unforced errors in attack but to keep Tonga to only 6 points with the amount of ball they had was an awesome effort.”
With defence already at a professional level, the squad is looking at balancing the squad by working on offence.
“I think our defence over the last couple of legs has improved a lot and I know our attack will evolve off the back of that,” Matt said.
“We blooded 2 new young hookers, Kaysa Pritchard, Erin Clark and a new five eight, Fa'amanu Brown and I thought their efforts were outstanding considering how brutal and intense the Test Match was.
“The experience they gained from this match will be invaluable for this team in moving forward to next year’s World Cup; I also thought young Raymond Faitala-Mariner’s performance was terrific in such a torrid match.”
But according to Matt, getting Captain Frank Pritchard onto the squad played a huge role in the teams win.
“Getting our inspirational leader back from the UK, Frank Pritchard was massive for our team and his leadership was invaluable for all our young players,” he said.
“Frank, Sam Tagataese, and Antonio Winterstein are great leaders and they lead the way both on and off the field.
“It is important for the development of our young players to mix and learn off these players for the future of Rugby League Samoa.
“Leading up to the match I just asked the team for a special effort as I knew it would take something special to beat a very good Tongan team and they all certainly delivered.
“The boys certainly did themselves and their families proud as well as the people of Samoa.”
With the Tongan side out of the way, Matt and his squad are anxious to show Samoa what they can do up close.
“We (All management and players of RL Samoa) can't wait to get to Apia in October and play the first Rugby League Test match in Samoa in front of all their families and friends,” he said.
“We want to give something back to the people of Samoa for all the support and good wishes they have given us over the last few years, we hope everyone in Samoa is as excited as we are.”