Two losses from two for Samoa at Sydney Sevens

By Thomas Airey 02 February 2019, 12:00AM

Samoa will play in the bottom half of the draw at the Sydney Sevens this afternoon having suffered two losses from their first two games against England and Japan.

Japan, the bottom-placed core World Rugby Sevens Series side, won the second game 21-17.

Manu Samoa 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens rung the changes for this game, with Johnny Samuelu, John Vaili and Danny Tusitala all coming into the starting lineup.

But his side were inconsistent at best in this one, with persistent errors stopping them from building any momentum.

It was Vaili that opened the scoring though, with the winger streaking away down the sideline after a quick tap put Samoa on the front foot in the 3rd minute.

Japan built pressure through possession, and eventually built enough phases to tire Samoa out.

A quick tap from Katsuyuki Sakai caught captain David Afamasaga not watching the ball close to the line, and Japan levelled the scores at 7 going into halftime.

Substitute Alatasi Tupou sent the second half kickoff out on the full; a symbol of the game and tournament so far for Samoa as a whole.

Kameli Soejima broke a few tackles to score for Japan, giving them their first lead in a game since the first round of the Series in Dubai last year.

Samoa’s Joe Perez spun out of a tackle from the resulting kickoff, and ran 60 metres down the sideline to reply instantly

However a penalty gave Japan good field position, which they turned into a try for Dai Ozawa through some nice passing.

Samoa replied through Afamasaga in the final minute, but missed conversions meant Japan still led 21-17

Tupou sent the kickoff far too deep for Samoa to recover in time to score, and Japan won just their second game on the Series.

A consummate performance from England saw them gain revenge over Samoa with a 24-12 win in their first match.

The two teams played first up last week in Hamilton as well, with the Manu Samoa 7s taking an upset win 12-10.

But this time England had too much class for Sir Gordon Tietjens’ side.

The tone was set from kickoff, where England were able to recover the ball.

They were able to keep possession for far longer periods than Samoa, who struggled to test the defence with any consistency on the ball.

Dan Norton made Siaosi Asofolau miss one on one early, and a few phases later England’s Richard de Carpentier scored inside of a minute.

Asofolau tapped the resulting kickoff back for Samoa, who made a good break through Tomasi Alosio.

With quick ball from the ruck, the ball went wide to Alamanda Motuga, who made it 5-5 when he crossed in the corner.

Samoa kicked off deep into England territory, but they were able to build by keeping possession and working their way forward. 

A line break after three missed tackles from Samoa put the Manu under pressure, and after winning a penalty and taking it quickly, and Will Muir scored in the 5th minute.

Possession changed hands a few times before the end of the half, with neither side able to change the 12-5 scoreline.

Samoa got a good chance to put something together when England knocked on at the restart.

They chose to put a kick in behind for substitute Vaili to chase, but Tom Bowen was able to clean up before Samoa conceded a breakdown penalty.

Again England built from their own half, with patient phase play following a clean break from Bowen.

Phil Burgess went over on the end of some nice passing, and England were up to a 19-5 lead with two minutes remaining.

When they scored again through after regathering the kickoff, the result was beyond any doubt.

Samoa put together their best piece of play by far in the final minute.

Asofolau made an explosive burst up the middle, which set up the chance for Perez to score out wide after some quick ball.

Substitute Tusitala landed the conversion, but it was too little too late.

Samoa played Fiji in their third game, with the paper having already gone to press.

By Thomas Airey 02 February 2019, 12:00AM
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