Manusina sloppy in 26-7 loss to Fiji
The Manusina have been well beaten 26-7 by Fiji on Friday evening in Lautoka in what could be a major blow to their World Cup qualification hopes.
The two sides will almost certainly face off again next Saturday in the final game of the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship with a place at the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand on the line.
Fiji were able to dictate the pace of a game that was largely defined by errors and inaccurate play, with their gamebreaking backs able to make the difference on the scoreboard.
Samoa had all the territory early, and turned down an easy shot at goal to set up an attacking lineout.
However Fiji stole their lineout ball close to the line, and were able to frustrate the Manusina over the first 15 minutes or so.
Fiji conceded another penalty about 17 metres from goal, and this time first five Bella Milo lined up the posts.
She shanked her kick left of the posts, in what was to be a symbol of Samoa’s sloppy play throughout.
Milo did open the scores in the end though, scoring a try just before the 20 minute water break.
Fiji had been on the attack but the ball spilled out to Manusina wing Apaau Mailau, who was dragged down just short of the line.
The tacklers were penalised in doing so though, and Milo tapped quickly to get Samoa’s lone try, which she did well to convert from the sideline.
It was Fiji now who came to dominate territory, although neither side could maintain any possession due to frequent mistakes.
Eventually the hosts forced an attacking lineout 10 metres out from the tryline, and blindside flanker Lavenia Tinai scored a try following a maul and a couple of phases.
First five Lavena Cavuru converted to tie the game with three minutes left in the half.
It was Fiji that came out the stronger side after the break, as Tinai made a great run to break the line.
Manusina fullback Saelua Leaula lost her footing, and Tinai found winger Priscilla Siata for a try inside the opening minutes.
Repeat penalties meant they had no field position as well, and Fiji eventually made it count.
Lavena Cavuru went through a big gap in the Manusina defence and found centre Mela Matanabau who scored Fiji’s third try in the corner with 20 minutes left.
The hosts’ linespeed and solid defence made Samoa’s largely lateral passing ineffective, and with about 10 minutes remaining they scored their bonus point try.
Reserve hooker Ada Dansey went over after a simple pick and go with the ruck left undefended, leaving no way back into the game for Samoa.
After the match Bella Milo said her side need to work on their mental preparation and improve the little things.
“Fiji really came at us, their set piece was really clinical so we didn’t get a lot of ball,” she said.
The Manusina will hope to put up a better effort in their penultimate game of the tournament next Tuesday against Australia A.
That game will be a chance to rebuild their confidence before they likely face Fiji again with a World Cup place on the line.
Fiji 26 (Tinai, Siata, Matanabau, Dansey tries; Cavuru 3/4 cons)
Samoa 7 (Milo try; 1/1 con, 0/1 pen)