An improvement nonetheless

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s taken a while but good things come to those who wait. Patiently. 

We’re referring to the much-improved performance by the Manu Samoa Sevens at the inaugural Vancouver Sevens tournament yesterday. 

After some pretty disappointing results in the past few months, we all took a collective breath of relief when they hammered the United States, 31-19, to secure the plate. 

Mind you, they came up just short against New Zealand in their cup quarter final, a game that could have easily placed them in contention for the Cup.

New Zealand of course went on to win the tournament but we can only wonder what if, had our boys managed to pull back that 19-12 lead by the Kiwis.

The truth is that we’d prefer to win the Cup. That is our ultimate goal.

At the same time, we’ve got to be realistic and appreciate the small steps and minor improvements. 

We say this because after what we’ve been seeing during the past few tournaments, the plate is certainly an improvement. 

The story of the national sevens team today can perhaps be summed up like this. We go from spicy hot to being freezing cold and then pathetic in some instances. Like a yo-yo, the team’s form has been lacking some real consistency. 

Alas in Vancouver, we have finally seen some consistency. Apart from a big loss against Fiji in their tournament opener, coach Damien McGrath and his players must be commended. They have finally started to play like the Samoan teams of old which is an absolute beauty to watch. 

They showed some brilliant touch on attack and when it comes to tackling, they were slightly better than the pathetic attempts we have sort of become used to.

What’s invigorating about this victory is that it at least gives us a sense of hope. 

This is not to say that they are there yet. 

Far from it.

But it’s a start and it’s something they can build on. We know that it is a very young team and they lack the experience of some of our more successful teams in the past. 

But that’s okay.

What’s important is that in Vancouver, they have taken a gigantic step forward, assuring the world and themselves perhaps that not all is lost. There is no doubt that their performance yesterday was not only delightful for supporters and fans to watch, it would do them a world of good in terms of going forward and self confidence.

We hope it’s a sign of things to come, that the team is finally starting to click and we hope they can take it to the next level when the series resumes in Japan and Hong Kong.

It would be foolish to expect them to win but it would equally be foolish to continue to write them off when we are finally starting to see some improvements.

Interestingly, prior to the weekend’s tournament, coach McGrath made a very telling statement when he said they were sick of making excuses about their pathetic performances. 

“Illness and injuries apart I think we still suffer from inconsistency - for every good thing we do we seem to open a door and let teams back in at times and that’s something that, as a coaching staff, we have to try and make better,” he said. “It’s no good us scoring great tries and doing good things and then doing some really basic errors which allow teams back into it. 

“It is a young team but we can’t keep using excuses - at some stage we need to straighten all these things out and I’m hoping that bit by bit that’s going to happen.”

Well take a breather McGrath; the performance yesterday in Vancouver was without a doubt an improvement. 

It’s a step in the right direction.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves now.

The plate is an improvement but the Cup is ultimately what we want.

Having said that, it’s good to see them finally play some quality rugby, as opposed to the silly stuff we’ve been seeing. 

So until the next time, well done boys. 

But don’t let this get to your heads. 

You’ve just won the plate, we’d rather have the Cup. So keep improving.

Have a great Tuesday Samoa!

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