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Winning start for Samoa at Hong Kong Sevens

They did it tough but a win is a win.

Samoa recovered from a tricky opening to their Hong Kong Sevens campaign to overcome Scotland, 17-7.

Laaloi Leilua was awarded a start in his return to the Manu Samoa 7s, while Tofatu Solia kept Siaosi Asofolau on the bench.

Tomasi Alosio also had to be content with a spot on the bench in his return from long-term injury.

Less than 30 seconds into the game, Tila Mealoi was yellow carded for a high tackle.

Scotland edged the ball forward slowly by working the ball from side to side.

But Samoa’s six-man defence slid across well in cover.

When Mealoi returned, Leilua received his own yellow card, and the numbers advantage for Scotland finally paid off when Max McFarland scored after a five-metre attacking scrum.

Samoa finally got some ball of their own, and Tofatu Solia got straight into his work with a couple of strong carries.

Leilua soon returned to the field, and Samoa had only conceded one try from their four minutes with six players.

Samoa got the final play in the half after Scotland’s second not-straight lineout throw in a row.

Melani Matavao scored the equaliser a couple of phases after the scrum, and the score was 7-7 at halftime.

Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens praised his side’s excellent defence, but demanded they do a better job of keeping the ball in the second half.

Another very poor throw from Scotland gifted Samoa possession and they made the Scots pay with their numbers out wide.

A Matavao skip pass from the base of the ruck found John Vaili for his first try of the tournament, making it 12-7 with about five minutes left.

Neither side could build any attacking pressure because of errors.

As Scotland finally built some forward momentum, the ball spilled out the back of the ruck and Mealoi reacted first to pinch possession for Samoa.

Substitute Murphy Paulo saw the switch was on and shifted the ball quickly to Solia, who cruised in for Samoa’s third try.

The game petered out with more Scotland errors in possession, and while one would hope Samoa improve with the ball in the games to come, their immense defensive effort in the first half while undermanned cannot be overstated.

Samoa play Japan at 5:16 pm Samoan time Saturday, before their final pool game against South Africa at 9:22 pm.

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