Manu Samoa’s winning ratio of one from three during their Northern Hemisphere tour might be disappointing but coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia prefers to focus on the positives.
Manu Samoa hung on to claim a 25-23 win over Canada in Grenoble, France, on Saturday much to the delight of the coach.
“It’s a great feeling to finally get the win,” Namulauulu told the Samoa Observer. “The boys are on a high and they gave it everything right up until the last scrum which needed to hold up and be strong.”
Namulauulu said the win against Canada was the result of some key changes they had been working on.
“We wanted to play a particular way against Canada and we also wanted to play the game in the right areas of the field. Direct and physical ball running was key. To get points every time we were in their half was also the key for the win,” he said.
“Our conversion rate of territory and points was spot on. D’Angelo Leuila at 10 had an outstanding game in kicking those pressure points that proved to be the difference in the end.
“Also our ball retention was better especially in the first half when we had to work hard to recycle ball. Our defence was organised and disciplined late in the game in which we needed to shut down the Canadian late run.
“The energy level of our impact players off the bench lifted our second half effort. I was very proud of the team.”
But the performance was far from perfect and Namulauulu said they have a lot to work on.
“We made many line breaks but only a couple were finished off,” he recalled.
“Our decision making still needs to be sharper. We missed two tries with the last pass not being made or a poor pass, which killed the movement. That will come with time as this team was relatively inexperienced and I'm very positive that these players will get better with time.”
And so what's next for the Manu Samoa? “Manu Samoa has the key World Cup qualification campaign next year in June which is the main focus,” said the coach. “This year we needed to blood new players and test our depth in certain areas.
“To see U20's and Samoa A players have an impact in that last game proves that some of our development pathways are working.
“The tour was also about trying some new systems that was geared towards our profile. Some areas were good, and other areas need to be better.
“It required some players pushing themselves to new levels - some could but others couldn't. And that’s what test level is all about.
“Next year’s June campaign will demand we select the best available players from a talent pool that has been developed this year.
“We also have the Brisbane 10's campaign in February that will offer an opportunity to keep building on what we did this year.”
After the test against Canada, the players have returned to their respective clubs as required through World Rugby regulations.
As for Namulauulu, he is in London for a World Rugby conference on behalf of the team and S.R.U.