Samoa were good value for their 45-56 win against Papua New Guinea in the opening game of the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship.
They dominated set pieces and the collisions, but some poor kick defence and mistakes let Papua New Guinea stay in the game.
The Manu Sina signalled their attacking intent early and it cost them almost immediately.
Papua New Guinea pounced on an intercept from a loose Samoa pass within their own 22, running in an easy try to open the scoring.
But the response came quickly from the inexperienced Manu Sina, with wing Lumepa Maiava scoring in the corner soon after.
It was the Manu Sina who looked more dangerous ball in hand, but their defensive structure let them down with PNG making it 14-5 after nine minutes of play.
At this point the first scrum of the game was set, and Samoa absolutely dominated.
The coaches will be pleased with the effectiveness of that set piece after so little time for the forwards to train together.
The scrum was a source of penalties for Samoa, and the field position let Manu Sina play on the front foot.
When first five Aiesha Smalley scored to make 14-12 it looked as though Samoa had taken control of the game.
But after around 20 minutes the Manu Sina looked to tire, conceding two tries in five minutes to give PNG a 21-12 lead.
More scrum dominance allowed halfback Tuiala To’o to score from close range, and when Marilyn Live scored another good forward’s try in the 35th minute the Manu Sina drew back within four points.
Openside flanker and captain Sui Pauaraisa had a massive first half on attack and defence, and topped it off in the best possible way.
She made a strong linebreak and scored on halftime, and the teams went in at 28-29 to PNG.
Samoa opened the second half with an awesome lineout maul, and by this point in the game they were winning almost every collision.
Some good extended phase play put a lot of pressure on PNG, and they ended up conceding a yellow card.
Manu Sina made the one woman advantage count, as Live’s second try and one for Mary-Lee Sa’u made the score 28-39 to Samoa
Captain Pauaraisa crossed again after Manu Sina won a tighthead at a PNG defensive scrum five metres out, and at 28-44 the game was almost over as a contest.
But PNG were able to score a breakaway try from kickoff completely against the run of play, proving they would finish any chances presented to them.
An easy try to centre Josephine Falesita put the Manu Sina up 33-49 at the second half water break.
She went over again after the break, and by now Samoa were almost always breaking the first tackle.
PNG scored two spectacular end-to-end tries to finish the game, but it was too little too late and Samoa took the win 45-56.