Manu into Dubai Sevens quarterfinals, Australia await
The Manu Samoa 7s will play Australia in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Sevens having finished second in Pool C after Day Two.
They defeated Wales 31-12 in their second pool match, before losing the battle for top of the group 40-7 to New Zealand.
Wales, who finished second-from-bottom on the 2018/19 World Rugby Sevens Series, proved tricky opponents for Samoa in the first half.
Ben Roach stole the ball for the Welsh in Samoan territory, and then got on the end of a try with just two minutes played.
Wales were on the attack again, but Joe Perez got over the ball at the ruck to win it back for Samoa and they finally gained some territory through a half-break from Alamanda Motuga, before the ball was stripped from him.
Manu captain Tomasi Alosio won a penalty at the breakdown though, which he took quickly for an easy try to make it 5-5 entering the halftime break.
Samoa took the restart through Tofatuimoana Solia, and after a couple of knock-ons each way the ball fell to Paulo Scanlan, who gave his side the lead just 30 seconds in.
Now it was the Manu who were controlling possession and territory, as they stole the ball once more in Canada’s half.
Substitute Elisapeta Alofipo gave a nice inside ball to Joe Perez for a try, while Canada’s Joe Goodchild was down injured in backplay.
Down by 12 with four minutes remaining, Canada upped the ante and advanced into the 22 thanks to some missed tackles from Samoa.
They lost the ball forward five metres out, but put good pressure on Samoa’s scrum and forced a Perez knock-on for Rio Dyer to score.
Samoa responded though; Belgium Tuatagaloa shook a few defenders with some good stepping to set up Elisapeta Alofipo for a try with 23 seconds left.
The Tama Uli Salelologa winger bagged a second right on fulltime as well with a terrific finish down the sideline.
It was likely that form that earned him a start against the All Blacks Sevens in the Pool C decider as Manu coach Sir Gordon Tietjens shuffled his lineup.
Forwards Kirisimasi Savaiinaea and Phillip Luki were also promoted, as Alamanda Motuga, Paulo Scanlan and John Vaili dropped to the bench.
Before the game, the two sides knelt together to pay tribute to the victims of Samoa’s measles epidemic.
Samoa got off to the perfect start, recovering the kickoff and winning a penalty which they took quickly, with Joe Perez running in the opening try.
New Zealand got their own try from a quick tap not long after, when Savaiinaea was pinged for not releasing the ballcarrier.
Andrew Knewstubb got play moving, threw a simple dummy and ran in to make it 7-7 with two and a half minutes left before the break.
The Kiwi playmaker then won another breakdown penalty to give the All Blacks the final chance of the half.
His cross-kick found Sam Dickson in heaps of space as the forward took New Zealand inside the 22.
Samoa were penalised again, and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black slipped through the line to give the All Blacks Sevens a seven point lead at halftime.
Discipline continued to be an issue for the Manu, as they racked up another couple of penalties inside a minute or so, allowing Scott Curry to score a try.
New Zealand extended their lead to 19 immediately, with Andrew Knewstubb ripping the ball away from John Vaili for an easy try as the Samoa wing took the ball into contact from kickoff.
The Manu finally got the ball to about halfway before turning it over, as Sione Molia scored a brilliant counterattacking try with two and a half minutes left.
The All Blacks Sevens got the final score a minute from time, shifting it wide for speedster Salesi Rayasi, a former Samoa Under-20 international, to dot down.
The Manu 7s get a chance for some revenge against Australia in their quarterfinal on Saturday at 10:20 pm Samoan time, having lost the Olympic qualifying place to their rivals at the Oceania Sevens last month.
Samoa 31 (Alosio, Scanlan, Perez, Alofipo 2 tries; Alosio 2/4 cons, Scanlan 1/1 con)
Wales 12 (Roach, Dyer tries; Treharne 1/2 cons)
New Zealand 40 (Knewstubb 2, McGarvey-Black, Curry, Molia, Rayasi tries; Knewstubb 3/4 cons, McGarvey-Black 2/2 cons)
Samoa 7 (Perez try; Alosio 1/1 pen)