Coach happy with improved Manusina performance
Manusina coach Ramsey Tomokino he is happy with his team's performance after what was a poor first half in their 27-5 loss to Australia A.
Samoa trailed 22-0 at halftime of the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship clash in Lautoka, Fiji on Tuesday, but were able to regroup for the second period.
“Basically told them that that’s 40 minutes where we let them play around with us, now we need to bar up in the next 40 and put in a performance that’ll make Samoa proud, so they went and did that," Tomokino said.
The coach made several changes to his lineup for Australia A, wanting to spread minutes around more ahead of the Manusina's crucial World Cup qualifier against Fiji on Saturday.
He said Manusina's poor first half was in part down to that, but they still backed themselves to be competitive.
“We had a couple of bad defensive reads allowing their winger to score a couple of tries."
Australia A wing Maya Stewart crossed for four first half-tries in all, however Tomokino insisted she stepped over the sideline for one of them, lamenting the lack of a television match official at the tournament.
But the Manusina improved as some of their frontline players were subbed on, and everyone stepped up to the challenge after halftime.
“Building phases, holding the ball, playing in the right areas of the field," Tomokino said.
“I thought the score was quite flattering [to Australia], but we missed opportunities too.
“Disappointing we let that last try in, we could’ve won that second half 5-zip.
“It’s not often we get an opportunity to play against Australia, and I don’t think we disgraced ourselves."
Tomokino said his team restored much of the confidence lost from last Friday's 26-7 loss to Fiji.
“Even though I told the girls to flush it, because it doesn't matter in the scheme of things, they took that loss very hard," he said.
“My job as a coach is I’ve got to get the girls to fire up for one match, no matter how battered and bruised we are, it’s all or nothing."
The coach said he wanted more physicality from his side against Australia after they were "too nice" against Fiji, and they delivered:
“Knowing that we can, when we need to muscle and bar up, that we can do that.
“We’re just pleased that we had the opportunity to go out there and right some things.
“As much as you wanna go and win the game, it was always about let's just go and put in a decent performance."
That performance may have come at a cost though, with blindside flanker Alyce Solaese going off with an injury that might keep her out of Saturday's match.
“Couple other injuries as well, so we’re a bit banged up today," Tomokino said, indicating that a couple of girls may be flown in from Samoa to join the squad."
The Manusina are also bearing a lot of grief at the moment with Samoa's measles epidemic directly impacting a couple members of the team.
Separately, winger Apaau Mailau learned of the passing of her uncle in the bus on the way to Tuesday's game.
“Hopefully we can use all that as motivation as well," Tomokino said.
“Our thoughts are with the people in Samoa, and all those that are losing loved ones.
“We certainly realise we’re in a position of privilege, so we just need to put it all in perspective that there’s a bigger picture in life than rugby."