A win at last.
Manu Samoa ended their 2018 season on a high with a 28-10 win over Spain in Madrid this morning.
It took the full first half for Samoa to break a committed Spain defence.
The 20th ranked side in World Rugby got enough territory to kick a 14th minute territory and lead 3-0.
But from there it was basically one-way action, with the Spanish defence camping out deep in their half.
Samoa had plenty of possession but try as they might nothing could pierce the home side’s line.
But then Spain appeared to go to sleep just before halftime and it cost them.
At an attacking lineout for the Manu, Spain committed too many players to the maul.
Captain Jack Lam quickly peeled off to the left, linking up with Ofisa Treviranus to score an easy try under the posts.
One moment of lost concentration had let Samoa in, and they took a 7-3 lead into the break.
The second half continued in much the same manner as the first, with Spain holding out against wave after wave of Samoa attack.
Then in the 49th minute Federico Castiglioni was sinbinned for a cynical deliberate knockdown under his own posts with Samoa hot on attack.
It could have easily been a penalty try as well, but Lam scored his second try from the ensuing scrum anyway.
Samoa finally had something on the scoreboard to reflect their dominance.
But then Richard Stewart intercepted a Tusi Pisi pass and ran 60-plus metres to score under the posts.
Just as Samoa were finally threatening to pull away, it was now 14-10 after 55 minutes of play.
The same pattern resumed though with, Rey Lee-Lo scoring after strong sustained phase play from the Manu, just as Castiglioni returned to the field.
About 10 minutes later, Samoa were in again for their fourth try.
Aana Chiefs flanker Iakopo Mapu found a bit of space out wide, lowering his shoulder and putting the defender Castiglioni on his backside.
Replacement halfback Pele Cowley recycled the ball quickly, and wing Ed Fidow sprinted away to score Samoa’s fourth try in the corner.
Fullback Jamie-Jerry Taulagi converted from out wide, making him a perfect 4/4 on the day.
The win will restore some confidence for the Manu, before they come together again next year in the leadup to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.