It has taken a few games but Manu Samoa fans thirst for victory was well and truly quenched on Saturday when the men in blue brought out their A game to defeat Tonga, 30-10, at Apia Park.
The win gave the thousands at Apia Park many reasons to celebrate, many feeling rewarded after the disappointment of the past couple of weeks when the team drew with Georgia and lost to Fiji.
But all that was quickly forgotten.
The team had to do it tough though. After a splendid first half where the home team romped to a 23-3, the wheels fell apart in the second half where they had to endure a spirited fight from the Tongans who wreaked havoc in the scrums. With a man in the bin and few minutes on the clock, replacement halfback Danny Tusitala send the Apia Park to crowd to rugby heaven when he pounced on a lose Tongan ball and showed enough speed to score. With victory secured, the celebrations began.
“It was a great game and obviously great to have the win,” said Toleafoa Taulemoe Ofisa from Leonē.
“But there are improvements that the management should look into. I think they need to work on their fitness, scrums and line out.
“We gave away a lot of possession in the second half and that’s a worry.”
Lolani Tamaleaoa from Vaoala said the result was all he cared about.
“I thought it was a very entertaining game,” he said. “I am very passionate Manu Samoa and to have them play Tonga on our soil is a great occasion.” But it wasn’t just the Samoans celebrating.
Despite the disappointment, Tongan supporters were equally jubilant.
“I am Samoan but I’m here today to give my whole support to my son-in-law, he’s from Tonga,” said Tasileta Tagi’ilima. “From the beginning until the end of the game, it was great. There were a few errors but it was brilliant.
Sophia Silva said she is proud of the way the Tongan team fought back in the second half.
“I married a Samoan man but my heart stays in Tonga and that’s why I am here today,” she said. “It feels like home when they were playing today and no matter what the result – to our team from Tonga, thank you very, you have made us proud.”
Manu Samoa’s Head Coach, Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, dedicated the win to Samoa.
“We’ve learnt very quickly in the last three weeks,” he said. “A test match is not over until the 80 minutes. Even coming into half time you can just never count the Tongans away. They came out very strong in the second half. So we knew that we were in it for a very tough second half. And as you saw, obviously it wasn’t the prettiest second half.
“But if that’s the way to get points. So that’s a lesson for us here in the Manu Samoa moving forward. But I am very very happy for the boys, for the captain and for the whole campaign. We’ve worked really hard behind the scenes.” Here are some photos of the fans at the Park on Saturday.