Samoa tops pool in Vancouver, qualifies for Cup playoffs
Despite losing 19-31 to Fiji in their final pool game, the Manu Samoa 7s have finished top of Pool B and will play in the Cup quarterfinals of the Vancouver round of the World Rugby Sevens Series tomorrow.
A try to John Vaili as time expired gave Samoa the top spot over Fiji through superior points difference, and they will play France at 9:14 am Samoan time.
Samoa now has a real chance to make up the eight point difference to 6th place Australia in the overall Series standings, after they finished 3rd in their pool.
Joe Perez was taken out of the 12 for the final game of Day One, with Johnny Samuelu promoted to the starting lineup and rookie Gasologa Pelenato taking a spot on the bench.
Samoa opted for the deep kickoff option again through Vaili to open the game.
Fiji struck first when Aminiasi Tuimaba stepped through two tackles and flew away to make it 7-0 within two minutes
Vaili then made a strong run down the touchline, and Samoa earned a penalty inside Fiji's 22 with a quarter of the game played.
Tila Mealoi went blindside from the tap, and Samuelu ran over top of his man to score out wide.
It looked like Samoa had their defence set to contain a dangerous Fiji side, but Sevuloni Mocenacagi ghosted through the line easily after some miscommunication between Samoan captain David Afamasaga and Tofatu Solia.
Danny Tusitala had come on to replace an injured Melani Matavao, but his unforced knock-on gave Fiji more attacking ball.
Alasio Naduva scored with time up on the clock to make it 19-5 at halftime.
Samoa needed possession in the second half, but from the kickoff they went wide to Samuelu, who was forced to throw the ball wildly back infield to Alamanda Motuga, who couldn't control it.
A massive step from Jerry Tuwai put the 29-year-old away to score, making it 26-5 with four and a half minutes left.
Samoa replied through Motuga, who ran an excellent supporting line to benefit from a Samuelu offload.
But Fiji went 80m the other way from kickoff, with Terio Veilawa scoring off the back of some trademark Fijian offloading.
They conceded multiple penalties over the next period of play as Samoa came forward looking to at least better their points difference, if the win was no longer in reach.
Afamasaga got the ball over the line, but the TMO decided Tuwai had got his hand under the ball and held it up.
At this point Fiji had a one point better points difference than Samoa, so would have finished top of the pool.
Vaili scored from the resulting scrum though, making it 19-31.