Strength tops speed in Manusina win over Hong Kong
Manusina hooker Eta Mailau enjoyed her debut for Samoa on Tuesday against Hong Kong in the Asia Pacific Championship in Fiji.
The 24-year-old from Utah, U.S.A. scored one of Samoa's six tries in their 34-15 win, and said she was nervous ahead of her first international match.
“It was honestly a scary experience, but when I got through the jitters it felt like a normal game really."
She said Hong Kong brought a good scrum, and sound tackling technique.
“They knew that we were strong runners, so they would chop tackle."
Mailau said after an initial feeling-out period, the game between a battle between Hong Kong's speed and Samoa's strength.
“Once we got a sense of how they played, we started [dictating tempo] and they had to play our game instead of theirs.
“Basically the gameplan was take it forward as a forward pack, then when there’s an overload we can spread it out.
“It took two or three of their players to take one down, so that gave us an advantage."
She said coming from the United States of America to represent her mother's birthplace was a great experience.
“Hopefully this opens up the doors for other Polynesian girls from the States to come and play for their motherland, either Samoa, Tonga, Fiji.
“After the Hong Kong game, I got so many messages from the Polynesian community saying what I did was awesome.
“A lot of girls are trying to reach out to [Manusina coach Ramsey Tomokino] and other coaches, that they might want to represent for their parents’ homeland and culture."
Tomokino said his expectation coming into the tournament was just to be competitive, and there or thereabouts in games.
“If we win we’ll take it, but it was more about having a look at the players."
He said coming into the game he was keen to stress to his side that Hong Kong were going to be tough opposition.
“We weren’t privy to seeing footage of Hong Kong, but we knew that they’d be fast.
“We said we’ve gotta out-physical and out-muscle, we had a gameplan were we wanted to play direct.
“I asked players to set the tone, so [fullback Soteria Pulumu] did two booming tackles in a row.
“After that, Hong Kong started to look a little bit apprehensive."
Pulumu got two tries on the other end as well, and Tomokino said she was probably player of the match, along with lock and fellow tryscorer Apaula Kerisiano Enesi.
Samoa's next game in the Asia Pacific Championship is against Fiji on Saturday.