Underdogs Tanoa Samoa Manono take out trophy

By Soli Wilson 24 February 2019, 12:00AM

Underdog team Tanoa Samoa Manono took out the Marist Nines Rugby League Tournament trophy last Saturday evening.

Held at the St Joseph’s Marist Stadiums, the champions put up a good show for the cup finals against Pacific Ezy Savaii, before winning 16-4.

Tanoa Samoa Manono team manager, Unasa Tauheia Levaai, said it was quite a comeback for the team, considering their performance during the four-week tournament.

“Right from the start of the tournament we didn’t play well and we lost most of our games and it was quite a big job and big efforts for us trying to come back for the tournament finale.

“It was big efforts from the boys you know we tried to come from the bottom to bring it up to the top; it was not easy and I thank the boys,” said Unasa.

Rugby League Samoa President, Tagaloa Fa’afouina Su’a echoed similar sentiments. 

“I think it really counts with that the boys have put in the past four weeks. They were the lowest ranking teams in the competition.

“However, today they have shifted to another level, shift another gear and their level of playing they really managed what they have been practicing,” he said.

He also commended the improvement of their skill level that was on display during the tournament from all the participating teams.

“They have really been leveled up; I could honestly say the Fantastic Four teams have been really good, displaying their good skills and fitness level.

“They’re really old players but you can see their fitness and experience show during the games and now they’ve been crowned champions,” Tagaloa said.

One of four referees from New Zealand Rugby League, Matt Johns, who officiated at the games had similar observations on the players’ skill level.

“It was good quality footing and it was things were pretty fit and definitely got some fitness to work on but yeah overall we were very impressed.

“Skill level was pretty impressive a lot of teams have been practicing and been together for a while and you can tell the times that they have spent together because everything was fluid.

“They know what they were doing; compared to some of the team that didn’t because they were kind of making it up as they went along but the skill level is pretty impressive,” he said.

Six teams participated in the Marist Nines Rugby League Tournament Men’s Division. They included the Fantastic Four local teams: Tanoa Samoa Manono, Matniuel Upolu, G-Mana Apolima and Pacific Ezy Savaii, joined with Mu’a Saints from Tonga and Queensland Samoa from Australia.

Tournament director Laulu Lafao Leauanae said putting the whole tournament together was not easy with efforts to lift the standards of the competitions.

“It was not easy, a little bit hard today we put everything in the high level so that the standards of the pacific games so a lot of improvement in the teams.

“And it was great having Mu’a Saints from Tonga and Queensland Samoa they really raised the standards of the tournament but finally the locals are still the ones who dominated today,” he said.

“Were planning to have another tournament because July is a little bit far so we don’t want to rest because the more tournaments the tougher and the better of the boys,” he added.

When asked about the full cost of putting the whole tournament together Laulu said, “If you want numbers, I can only say, a lot of money and a lot of energy and a lot of effort. 

“We cannot put a price to the effort of everyone that really helped. Grateful for Marist Sports Club, Vailima and many others – volunteers, Rugby League Committee and members plus the community. 

“We’re excited for what’s next and we appreciate them for coming,” he said.

By Soli Wilson 24 February 2019, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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