Manu, Manusina undefeated on Oceania 7s Day One
The Manu Samoa and Manusina 7s both went through Day One of the Oceania Sevens in Lautoka, Fiji undefeated in their fight for a spot at the Olympics.
After struggling in the first half of game one against Papua New Guinea, the Manu were closer to their best in a 45-0 win over the Solomon Islands.
Having been benched at the break against P.N.G., forward Tofatuimoana Solia responded with a trademark strong carry early.
John Vaili made a good run off the back of that, and found Losi Filipo in support with the Wellington Lions man getting his first ever international sevens try.
Laaloi Leilua made it two for Samoa inside four minutes, taking a penalty quickly and proving too strong near the line for the Solomons' defence to stop.
They were able to gain some impetus though, getting the ball forward after Samoa's kickoff didn't go 10 metres.
But then Leilua (probably the Manu's best on Day One) made a crashing tackle to knock the ball free as the Solomon Islands looked like scoring.
The game was all but over when John Vaili stepped two players and sped away for a long-range try to make it 19-0 on the halftime siren.
Samoa kept the hammer down after the break, with their aggressive defence forcing a mistake deep in Solomon Islands' territory.
The ball made it's way to Joe Perez, who scored the Manu's fourth to make it 24-0 in the ninth minute of play.
As both teams rolled the substitutes the floodgates opened for Samoa.
Belgium Tuatagaloa grabbed a try after a big break from Elisapeta Alofipo, then Paulo Scanlan pounced on some loose ball and coasted in to make it 38-0.
There was time for one last try to debutant Uaina Sione as well.
Earlier in the day the Manu Samoa 7s got their campaign underway with a hard-fought 33-7 win over Papua New Guinea
The Manu Samoa 7s started well on defence, containing P.N.G. with solid tackling before forcing a turnover on halfway.
Wing John Vaili made a nice run, then halfback Laaloi Leilua snuck through the line for a try in the 3rd minute.
P.N.G. replied soon after though, keeping the ball moving with good offloading until the Manu line cracked and they levelled the scores at 7-all.
Joe Perez came close to scoring for the Manu with the last play of the half, but Papua New Guinea held on.
Clearly less than impressed with how his team were performing, Manu 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens rung the changes at halftime, bringing Kerisimisi Savaiinaea, Belgium Tuatagaloa and Elisapeta Alofipo on for Tofatuimoana Solia, Losi Filipo and John Vaili.
That was the rev-up the Manu needed, and they scored immediately after the break.
Receiving the kickoff inside their 22, Samoa shifted the ball wide to Perez, who broke the line and fed Tuatagaloa for an easy try.
P.N.G. were becoming sloppy in possession, and Samoa scored their third on the counter when Laaloi Leilua threw a nice dummy and dotted down to make it 21-7.
Tomasi Alosio scored the Manu's fourth at the end of a flowing passing move, and there was time for one more try to Alamanda Motuga on fulltime.
The Manu Samoa 7s will play their remaining pool games against Tuvalu at 4:18 pm, then the Cook Islands at 8:42 pm (both Samoan time) on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Manusina 7s escaped with a 21-19 win over the Cook Islands in their first game of the Oceania Sevens.
An early Alafou Fatu knock-on had them under the pump to start the game, but they defended well and forced the Cook Islands out of play.
Wing Apaau Mailau then burnt off a 70-metre solo run, showing a lot of gas and a nice find to score Samoa’s first try of the tournament.
The Manusina doubled their lead with a minute left in the half, making it 14-0 with a nice counterattacking move.
Elisapeta Leti won the ball at the breakdown and started the break from inside the 22, and Faalua Lefulefu scored the try at the other end.
A late defensive mixup meant the Cook Islands scored right on halftime though, keeping them within seven points.
And they tied it up inside a minute of the second half, taking advantage of more poor scrambling defence to make it 14-14.
In the leadup to the try, Lefulefu picked up what looked like a nasty knee injury as well, putting the rest of her tournament in doubt.
A bit of individual brilliance from Saelua Seleti put Samoa back in the lead, when she chipped in behind the line and won the race to the ball to get the Manusina 7s third try.
The Cook Islands soon replied, however crucially missed their conversion, hitting the crossbar from right in front of the posts.
With time up, the Cook Islands were on the attack but knocked the ball on with an overlap out wide.
The win puts Samoa second in Pool C behind Papua New Guinea, who were dominant 52-0 winners over Tonga in the other Day One match.
The top two teams from Pool C will advance to the Olympic Qualifier semifinals, with hosts and division favourites Fiji on the other side of the draw.
The Manusina 7s now look forward to pool games against Tonga (1 pm Samoan time) and Papua New Guinea (5:46 pm Samoan time) on Friday
In the first game of the tournament, Samoa’s deaf men’s sevens team fought out a 7-5 loss against Fiji Totokia.
Both sides were plagued by errors throughout, and a missed conversion proved the difference after Ionatana Tofa’s late try gave Samoa a chance to tie it up.
Samoa's next game is against Fiji NaiUla at 12:22 pm on Friday Samoan time.