Silver for Samoa at Vegas 7s
The Manu Samoa 7s finished 2nd at the Las Vegas round of the World Rugby Sevens Series after their 27-0 loss to tournament hosts USA in the Cup final.
Samoa jump to 7th in the overall Series standings, ahead of the next tournament in Vancouver next weekend.
They fielded the same team for the final that saw them through the other knockout games, but USA showed the class that has them in first place overall through the five Series rounds to date.
The hosts started strong, winning an early turnover after Joe Perez was caught holding on to the ball.
Ben Pinkelman scored the opening try in the second minute, when Tofatu Solia was caught a little flatfooted in the defensive line after USA had spread to one side then the other.
Samoa struggled to break the USA line when they had the ball, with lateral passing and good defence preventing any forward momentum.
Martin Iosefo broke two tackles then set up Matai Leuta to make it 10-0 with four and a half minutes played.
They almost got another just before halftime, but were pushed into touch right at the tryline on the final play of the half.
But the USA picked up where they left off, and Stephen Tomasin popped a pass to Madison Hughes after making a half break.
The Series’ leading scorer Hughes ran in their third try with Pinkelman scoring another and Maceo Brown completing an efficient, dominant performance with his own try after the hooter.
Samoa earned their first Cup final place since 2016 with a 33-19 over Argentina in the semifinal.
They kicked off against Argentina, and captain David Afamasaga set the tone with an immediate steal at the breakdown.
One phase later, he was running in the oppening try under the posts.
Winger Johnny Vaili made it 14-0 with four minutes left in the half, after an inside step made his marker miss out wide.
He then leapt high to secure the kickoff for Samoa, then the ball was shifted quickly with a pass that looked forward finding Tofatu Solia who scored the third try.
Argentina replied in the sixth minute with a forward-looking pass of their own setting up Francisco Ulloa.
The halftime score was 19-5, with Samoa’s efficiency on attack getting three them a try from each of their three visits to the Argentina 22.
Manu Samoa 7s furthered the lead in the second half, with substitute Siaosi Asofolau scoring after some nice passing and offloading right from kickoff.
The almost put it beyond doubt soon after when Vaili kicked deep down into the corner.
Joe Perez lead the race to the ball and made a desperate face-first dive but couldn’t get there before the ball went out.
He looked to have injured his nose quite badly, which may affect his performance in the final this afternoon.
An intercept from Alamanda Motuga gave him an easy breakaway try under the posts with two minutes left, and Samoa’s 28 point lead proved unassailable.
Consolation tries to Francisco Ulloa and Franco Florio as time expired couldn’t dampen the mood for Samoa, and the sizable contingent of fans at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Manu Samoa 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said the semifinal win meant a lot.
“Just making the cup quarters was big for us.
“Lot of self belief came out of winning that quarterfinal.”