Manumā ship eight tries to South China in opening loss
Manumā Samoa had a big loss in their first ever Global Rapid Rugby fixture, going down 52-27 to the South China Tigers on Saturday night.
The match was played at HBF Stadium in Perth despite technically being a home match for the Manumā, who will try to pick themselves up before playing the Western Force at Apia Park next Saturday.
Second five D’Angelo Leuila knocked over the first points in Manumā Samoa history with a penalty to give his side the lead.
But it was South China who got the first try, with skipper Josh Dowsing dotting down in the corner in the 12th minute.
Manumā retook the lead about ten minutes later, as lock Theodore McFarland finished off a lineout drive out wide.
The Savai’i Vikings lock was a standout in Super 9 last year, and continued that form in an outstanding first half.
But it was the Tigers who scored next after Manumā openside flanker Oneone Faafou Soisoi picked up a yellow card for cynically not rolling away at a ruck hot on defence.
Soon after winger George Watkins went over to make it 12-8 to South China.
Theodore McFarland did tremendously to win the restart cleanly for Samoa and get them straight into the 22.
Manu Samoa prop Alofaaga Sao crashed over the tryline from the very next phase before D’Angelo Leuila made it 15-12 with the conversion.
McFarland then won a penalty for holding onto the ball at the breakdown, allowing Leuila to extend the lead with a penalty.
Oneone Faafou Soisoi then returned to the field, but he couldn’t help his teammates keep the Tigers out before halftime.
Their scrum dominated all game, and the setpiece provided a good platform inside the 22 metre line for fullback Nathan de Thierry to insert himself into a backline move and score.
Manumā led by one at the break, but for whatever reason they largely faltered after halftime, especially on defence.
A poor decision to try and attack from deep gave the Tigers an attacking lineout 10 metres from the tryline, and they scored with four minutes played in the second period through lock Mark Prior.
One of the rule variations in Global Rapid Rugby is the automatic nine-point power try for continuous attacking moves that start inside a team’s own defensive 22.
Manumā scored the first such try of the season through some classic attacking rugby; a skip pass by captain Patrick Fa’apale gave winger Tila Mealoi room to set Malu Falaniko free with an offload.
He found Oneone Faafou Soisoi running a good supporting line to put the Manumā back in front, 27-24.
From that try in the eighth minute after halftime it was largely one-way traffic though, as Nathan de Thierry was able to pierce some average defence for his second try.
Samoa had a crack at another power try, advancing up the field and earning a couple penalties from which they opted to scrum inside the 22 metre line.
The gamble didn’t pay off though, as South China won a penalty at scrum-time and quickly turned defence into attack.
They continued to put Manumā under pressure through the setpiece, forcing a couple of penalties close to the tryline.
Referee Nick Briant would certainly have been considering a penalty try, but the Tigers scored anyway, with Luke van der Smit crossing off the back of a pushover scrum to put his side two scores ahead with less than eight minutes left.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Josh Dowsing got his second try from close range, and hooker Callum Smith blew the score out even more with a try on fulltime.
The Manumā were in the contest for much of the game, but will be disappointed with their defensive efforts having conceded eight tries to the three they scored.