Manu Samoa has hung on for a 25-23 win against Canada to record their first win of their three-match Northern Hemisphere tour yesterday.
Having lost to France and Georgia in their first two matches, yesterday’s test at Grenoble France was a must win for coach Namualuulu Alama Ieremia and his men.
They led 16-6 at the halftime break thanks to a try from Paul Perez and the boot of D’Angelo Leuila.
In the second half Canada mounted a come back and they put up a brave fight until the final whistle, scoring a try on 79th minute to come within two points of the Manu.
But in securing the win yesterday, Manu Samoa unveiled a potential new star as teenage flyhalf Leuila kicked 20 points to hold off Canada.
Making his first start for Samoa, Leuila’s expert goalkicking proved the difference. He slotted four penalties, two dropped goals, and converted Samoa’s only try.
Meanwhile, Canada scored three tries in the last 22 minutes to roar back from 19-6 down and threaten to beat Samoa for the first time in six attempts.
But two of the tries weren’t converted.
Canada is ranked 18th in the world compared to No. 14 for Samoa, which was coming off losses to No. 8 France and No. 12 Georgia.
Leuila helped Samoa Under-20s win the second-tier Junior World Trophy in May, and made his Samoa debut in June as a replacement against Georgia.
He’s turned 19 since then, and was picked to tour Europe after regular flyhalf Tusi Pisi was sidelined by a groin injury.
Following losses to France (52-8) and Georgia (20-16), Samoa was made to counterattack early for centre Paul Perez’s try. Leuila converted, dropped a goal, and hit a penalty for Samoa to lead 13-0 after 14 minutes.
Samoa led 16-6 by halftime, then 19-6 against the run of play. Soon after, lock Taiasina Tuifu’a was yellow-carded for a late tackle on fullback Matt Evans, and Canada scored its first try by driving over flanker Evan Olmstead from a lineout.
Even after veteran Canada lock Jamie Cudmore was sin-binned in the 62nd, his team notched its second try when winger and captain DTH van der Merwe scooped up a perfect bounce from a Phil Mack box kick and ran in. The conversion was missed again, and Canada trailed 19-16.
With Tuifu’a restored, Leuila kicked over his second dropped goal then his fourth penalty after he was hit late by counterpart Connor Braid.
When Cudmore returned, Van der Merwe scored his second try from a crosskick by Braid, who also converted. But time ran out, and Canada return home winless on tour after defeats to No. 5 Ireland (52-21) and No. 16 Romania (21-14).