A sad night when Wales broke Samoan hearts at Apia Park

By Emily Dunn ,

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FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.

FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park. (Photo: Emily Dunn)

A sea of blue, Apia Stadium hosted the Manu Samoa vs Wales rugby match on Friday. 

Amid endless blue jerseys, the consensus was to expect a strong Samoan team who would bring their country what they wanted. 

Few could predict the final outcome. Even Welsh supporter, Shaun Harding, said: “Wales are playing great but I don’t think they’ll win, but they’ll do their best. It’s fantastic to be here though.”

The first half saw a frenzied display of support from the Samoan crowd, particularly with the team starting strong with a try in the first ten minutes.

Local man, Werner Tuatagaloa, told the Samoa Observer that “it feels great to see my home team here in Apia, I think they’ll definitely win.”

The Samoan community continued to rally and support their team as Talei Esera said, “it feels awesome to be here, they already have a try, they’re going to win!” Through the general admission stand, morale was high at half time as fans were elated with their team in pole position. 

Even cautious Manu fans had faith in their team to deliver. 

Titilia Tuileva said, “they’re doing alright, definitely better than against the All Blacks. I know they’ll win; for the players, having their home crowd here should really push them on. It’s a win or nothing!”

Frenchman Alex Caron came out in support of Samoa.

“The atmosphere is good and most people are excited. The Welsh are looking strong tonight but I think Manu have got it in them to win.”

On Samoan soil, the game was always going to draw in the home crowd. 

FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.
FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.
FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.
FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.
FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.
FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.
FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.
FANS: Manu Samoa and Wales fan celebrate at Apia Park.

The supporters genuinely had faith that their team would thrive with the locals behind them. So this begs the question: what went wrong for Manu Samoa?

Layla Faosiliva believes it was the weather that held them back. 

“I’m speechless. I think it’s the weather, but that’s no excuse. They played well and I’m proud of them, but Wales were playing really well tonight as well. It’s a game and sometimes you lose.”

 She questioned the effect of a number of empty seats around the stadium, “the atmosphere was not what I was expecting. The weather is so horrible, hopefully their next game will be better.” 

With kick off at 7:30pm the match was one of the latest test matches held. Several supporters questioned if this caused a marked decrease in ticket sales. Combined with the poor weather, the players experienced poor conditions. 

As the game drew to a close, even Welshman Neil Roberts, was optimistic for the Samoan side, “it’s a tricky game because obviously it’s wet”. 

The game has brought a number of tourists to Samoa.

Neil Roberts was among them.

“It’s marvellous to be here and we’ve mostly had great weather. And definitely great people. It’s unbelievable to be here, the hospitality has been superb.” 

Nathan Murphy, aged 20, who also made the long trip from Wales, said “it feels brilliant, its such a nice place and the whole community it’s welcoming. It’s a real privilege and an honour to be here.” 

In the final moments, Nathan predicted the outcome perfectly stating, “it’s a close match but I think Wales will just get the win.” They did.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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