Vaiala crowned Apia Union champions

Vaiala won the Taula Apia Rugby Union championship on Saturday with a five point win over Lupeolesoaga.

BBE Vaiala Ulalei defeated Lupeolesoaga 27-22 in the final round of the Senior A competition at Tuanaimato, securing them first place on the table with just one loss all season.

Coach George Mariner said it was a very physical game against the team from Magiagi.

“We knew that Magiagi would lift up their game.

“They’re a team that we have noticed are slowly developing."

He said Lupeolesoaga are an underrated team in the competition, evidenced by their season in which they suffered just three losses

“We thank Magiagi, because even though it’s the end of the year, it’s something for us to carry forward on what we need to work on.

“They exposed us in the scrum, their scrum really dominated us."

Mariner said Vaiala's experienced backs like first-five Patrick Fa'apale, and captain Fanolua Fatu Fanolua saw them through the game.

Fa'apale said his role is to ensure the team's gameplan runs smoothly.

He said it was a tough competition this season, with Vaimoso HJ Keil returning to the Apia Rugby Union to join the other strong clubs already there.

“Thanks God for this year, for making us champions."

He said the team were able to rise to the top because they trained together every evening.

“We work together as a team."

Fa'apale will be representing Vaimauga Eels in the upcoming Super 9 competition.

His goal for this year is to make the Manu Samoa squad for the Rugby World Cup, and is training hard to make that happen.

Vaiala coach George Mariner said many of their other players will be playing in the Super 9 as well.

He thanked sponsor Betham Brothers Enterprises, and all the club's supporters in Vaiala.

“They’re the ones that made our season finish with success."

Mariner also acknowledged the success of Vaiala's under-20 team, who went undefeated over the season to claim the championship and the U20 Trophy.

“We’ve been slowly trying to bring them one by one into the premier team, to experience what big time play is all about."

He said the game is totally different at the younger age level

“They’ve been exposed, and they’ve learned from it."

Mariner said one of Vaiala's main goals for this season was to have that blending of the squads, with the hope that some of the players become full-time seniors next year

“Still gotta always keep an eye on where to from now.

“We wouldn’t want to be one of those one-year-wonder teams."

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