Manusina beat Fijiana, win first ever Asia Pacific Championship
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Manusina won the inaugural Asia Pacific Championship with a 15-12 win over the hosting Fijiana at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday.
Wing Linda Fiafia opened the scoring for Samoa after about 23 minutes of scrappy play from both sides.
She was later yellow carded for a high tackle after Fiji made multiple trips inside the Manusina 22, putting Samoa’s defence under pressure.
They held stout right until the end of the half, when the Fijian finally scored to head into the break at 5-5.
Samoa repelled Fiji close to the line twice either side of Fiafia’s return from the sinbin, before a gamebreaking moment from their star of the tournament.
Fullback Soteria Pulumu has been outstanding for the Manusina in both attack and defence, and she took the ball all the way from inside Samoa’s own 22 to score a try in the corner.
Not long after she offloaded nicely to number eight Nina Foaese who scored Samoa’s third try.
Halfback Jhana Magele was performing the kicking duties, and she couldn’t convert any of Samoa’s tries on the day.
Samoa continued to defend well, included a trysaving tackle from co-captain Sui Pauaraisa to force a knock-on just a few metres from the line.
Fiji eventually scored in the corner and made the conversion, but time was up and Samoa had their win.
With two wins from two at the Asia Pacific Championship, confidence will be high in the Manusina camp looking ahead to the Oceania Championship in November, which serves as a qualifier for the 2021 Rugby World Cup.
Some of the 15s players are also likely to feature for the Manusina 7s on home soil at the Pacific Games sevens event in July.