Manu Samoa Sevens two games from Dubai title
The Manu Samoa Sevens are two games away from the Dubai Sevens title which will bring a much-needed lift to a country in mourning as a result of the measles crisis.
Samoa will play South Africa in the Dubai Sevens semifinals having beaten Australia, 19-14.
Manu Sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens opted to start Belgium Tuatagaloa and Elisapeta Alofipo in place of John Vaili and Losi Filipo.
Samoa opened the match with back to back penalties for being taken in the air at the kickoff and the Australia tackler not releasing at rucktime.
A nice switch pass from Paulo Scanlan sent his skipper Tomasi Alosio into the 22.
Belgium Tuatagaloa beat his man one-on-one with a fend to score under the posts in just the second minute.
With their first possession of the match, Australia advanced the ball to halfway before earning a couple of penalties.
Elisapeta Alofipo was somewhat lucky not to receive a yellow card for what was fairly cynical offside play.
With Australia knocking on the door, Joe Perez was carded for knocking a pass to the open man on the wing out of the air.
The offence also drew a penalty try from the referee, tying the scores at seven.
Samoa did well to hold onto possession until Perez’s return from the sin bin with 20 seconds left in the half.
But they undid that good work with what was a gift try for Australia on the hooter, thanks to a brain fade from Belgium Tuatagaloa and Tofatuimoana Solia.
Solia knocked on, and both players just stopped without the referee blowing his whistle.
He was playing advantage, so Australia pounced on the ball and Maurice Longbottom scored under the posts to give his side a seven-point lead.
Paulo Scanlan opened the second half with a strong penalty win for holding on.
Solia then went on one of his trademark busts, bashing through three defenders to get the ball 10 metres from the tryline.
However Australia counterrucked well a phase later, forcing a penalty at the breakdown.
They went for a lineout on the 22 metre line, but threw the ball in crooked to turn it back over.
Samoa gave it to Joe Perez from the scrum, and he lost his man with a dummy and jump step to go through the line and under the posts with little over two minutes played.
They recovered the kickoff as well, and things got worse for Australia when Joe Pincus received a yellow card for taking the man in the air.
Tomasi Alosio got the ball over the line, although the TMO ruled his grounding was actually held up millimetres above the Dubai pitch.
Samoa were under advantage for offside though, and they spread it wide for Joe Perez to get his second try with the extra man advantage.
The Manu 7s kicked off up five points with 45 seconds to play, Alosio slamming the ball deep.
It bounced out just 10 metres from Australia’s tryline for a lineout.
With time up, Australia advanced the ball over halfway and drew a penalty for not rolling away.
They tapped and kept the pressure on, but Tofatuimoana Solia redeemed his mistake on halftime by getting over the ball at the breakdown and forcing the holding on penalty that sealed Samoa’s win.
The Manu 7s play South Africa in the semifinal at 1:22 am Samoan time.
Australia 14 (Penalty try, Longbottom tries; Longbottom 1/1 con)
Samoa 19 (Tuatagaloa, Perez 2 tries; Alosio 2/3 con)