Samoa smash hosts at Vancouver Sevens
The Manu Samoa 7s got their Vancouver round of the World Rugby Sevens Series off to a flying start with a big statement win over hosts Canada, 38-7.
Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens had asked his side to control possession in the leadup to the game, and Samoa obliged, with Canada only getting meaningful possession twice in the entire game.
Samoa showed they are a versatile team that can play different styles; coming into the tournament they have averaged the least passes per game.
But in this match they built attacking opportunities patiently, prizing possession and the continuity Tietjens had sought against this particular opponent.
Starting the same team that took them to the final in Las Vegas, Samoa were looking for their third win from three games against Canada this season.
Joe Perez secured the kickoff, and Samoa quickly got into their passing game.
John Vaili was set up to score by a nice offload from Perez, with the try coming off some good play building phases.
Canada got their first touch of the ball after two minutes and 30 seconds, but knocked on.
Perez would have been away from the resulting scrum, however play was called back for a forward pass.
It was finally Canada’s turn to build their own phases, and Mike Fuailefau scored, stretching out for the line through a Melani Matavao tackle to make it 7-7 with a minute to play.
Samoa just picked up where they had left off, working the ball 60 metres forward by keeping possession.
Skillful offloading in Canada’s 22 got Vaili his second try with time up, and Samoa lead 14-7 at the break.
They had 36 passes in the first half to 18 for Canada, including eight offloads to nil.
Tila Mealoi’s second half kickoff created a good contest, and forced a Canada knockon.
Samoa ran a clever set play with a dummy run from Tofatu Solia drawing in multiple defenders.
That opened Canada’s defence up out wide, and captain David Afamasaga scored his 16th try of the year, equal eighth most on the Series for 2019.
Samoa recovered another kickoff, and Mealoi scored from chasing down his smart grubber kick to make it 26-7 with three and a half minutes left.
They regathered the kickoff again, continuing a monopoly on second half possession.
Murphy Paulo, who is fast becoming a super-sub for Samoa, threw a big dummy pass, fended off his man and scored Samoa’s fifth try.
Canada finally got the ball with just two minutes left in the game, but after a few phases Paulo got over the tackled ball from the sweeper position to win a penalty.
Fellow subsititute Danny Tusitala set up Perez for one final try, and Samoa are well on their way to make the quarterfinals for the second week in a row.
A win over Kenya in their second pool game at 12:30 pm Samoan time would likely secure qualification before Samoa’s final game against Fiji at 4:02 pm.
Fiji defeated Kenya 36-12 in the first game in Pool B.