Vaeluaga happy with effort against Wallabies

Manu Samoa head coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson is taking a lot of positives out of their 34-15 loss to the Wallabies on Saturday night.

Samoa entered the halftime break 22-3 down, but Vaeluaga said spirits were still high among the team:

“After the first half we came into the changing room and the guys were pretty upbeat.

“We understood that the tries that they scored were from our mistakes, and when you’re playing against world class sides like Australia you can’t afford to turn ball over like we did.”

He said he was happy with the second half performance, and a couple of soft tries at the end, and it was only a couple of soft tries at the end that let the score blow out a little.

Vaeluaga was particularly pleased with some of his substitutes, and said they need to have competition for starting jerseys:

“Some of the changes that we made lifted the spirits again.”

Bench prop Paul Alo-Emile for example won a penalty for a dominant scrum immediately after coming on.

With the Wallabies scrum put under pressure in their last couple of tests, Vaeluaga said set piece was an area they were able to target:

“Not so much a weakness [for the Wallabies], we probably just worked on ourselves.

“We’ve got quite a strong front row and they compete pretty well at training.”

He said scrums technical advisor Ben Afeaki made the call to start a few younger players there in Jordan Lay, Ray Niuia and Michael Alaalatoa, who was making his test debut:

“Those guys that started did a job, and those older guys were quite hungry and came on to prove a point.”

Vaeluaga also noted the Manu lineout didn’t function as he wanted, and said he would’ve liked to have the extra height of loose forwards Chris Vui and Piula Fa’asalele, who were out with illness and injury respectively.

“They’ll be back in the next couple of weeks which will give us a little bit more height in our lineout,” he said.

Their absence did allow Afaesetiti Amosa to shine in the number eight position though, and Vaeluaga thought he was great once again:

“He’s just shown the qualities of a guy, a strong ball-running number eight who’s fast off the base of the scrum and he’s got a skillset that we wanna use within our group.”

The coach said he came out with a point to prove against the Wallabies, playing in front of the nation that rejected him as a professional rugby player.

“He’s been carrying a niggly injury with his foot,” Vaeluaga said.

“I kept telling him over the radio, just get to the 70th minute for me.”

He said the 29-year-old jumped at the opportunity to represent the Manu ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup, and has been a fantastic influence off the field as well.

The Manu didn't get through the game unscathed though, with Scott Malolua (shoulder dislocation) and Jack Lam (knock to eye) both substituted off before halftime.

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