Manu 7s have it all to do in Hamilton
The Manu Samoa 7s quest for a first tournament win since 2016 might be over quickly at the Hamilton Sevens on Saturday.
The format for the World Rugby Sevens Series tournament sees only the winner of each Pool progress to the Cup semifinals, with everyone else playing off for the minor placings from fifth to 16th.
That means little short of an unbeaten run over the first three games is required to stay alive in the competition; a hard ask for Samoa who were drawn into the dreaded ‘pool of death’.
The Manu’s first game in Pool D is against defending Series champions Fiji at 2:47 pm Samoan time.
Samoa lost all three games against their island rivals on the 2019 Series, before slumping to an embarrassing home defeat against a Fiji side made up of reserves in the Pacific Games sevens final last July.
That adds to a winless streak against the Flying Fijians which stretches back to May 2017.
The defending Series champions have started 2020 slowly though – at the Dubai leg they missed the quarterfinals of a tournament for the first time in two years.
While that provides some hope of an upset for Samoa, they would have to back up in a tough second game against Argentina at 8:05 pm Samoan time as well.
Los Pumas are currently fourth in the Series standings, having made the quarterfinals in both legs to date.
After 2019 Series losses to Argentina in Cape Town and Sydney, Samoa reeled off four straight wins over them across the rest of the season.
Thus they can be relatively confident of a win over the side that finished ninth overall last year to Samoa’s sixth place.
The results of those first two games will determine what Samoa has left to play for in their final Pool game on Sunday against Australia at 1:35 pm Samoan time.
That will be the Manu’s fourth matchup with Australia in three months, with the two teams proving relatively evenly matched so far this season.
After Australia took the prized scalp of automatic Olympic qualification with a win over Samoa at the Oceania Sevens, the Manu got a modicum of revenge with a 19-14 win in the Dubai Sevens quarterfinal.
However Australia turned the tables again a week later in Cape Town, beating Samoa 24-14 in pool play.
Manu Samoa at the Hamilton 7s (all Samoan time):
- Fiji vs Samoa – Saturday 2:47 pm
- Argentina vs Samoa – Saturday 8:05 pm
- Australia vs Samoa – Sunday 1:35 pm
- Finals – Sunday 5:20 pm to 9:56 pm