Tupou injury cloud casts shadow over Vaiala-Moata’a classic
Vaiala and Moata’a played out the latest clash in their storied rivalry at the Marist International Sevens Tournament yesterday, with Vaiala taking the honours 17-5 to finish top of Pool 3 and book a quarterfinal clash with Tama Uli Salelologa.
However they may have lost playmaker and Manu Samoa 7s star Alatasi Tupou for the rest of the tournament, after he limped off before halftime of a typically physical encounter.
At the time of going to print, Vaiala were waiting for X-ray results for Tupou.
Vaiala team manager Tafaoimalo Laifa Petersen said the injury is not too serious.
“He will face the tournament doctor [to assess the injury].
“We really need [him] tomorrow, to work together with Patrick Fa’apale setting up our young boys.”
Tafaoimalo said there was a bit of nervousness when Tupou went out, but Fa’apale and current Manu Samoa 7s player Murphy Paulo were able to stand up and lead the team.
Tupou was initially held out of the Marist Sevens as an important player for the Manu, but was granted a release to play for Vaiala just before the tournament.
Tafaoimalo said the Moata’a game was a good test ahead of the do-or-die games tomorrow.
“Especially in the physical part of the game, we all fit for the win right to the end.
“Every time we play Moata’a all the people of Vaiala will always back up and support us.
“It’s good for the audience, because they enjoy watching these two teams playing each other.”
Moata’a will play Vaimoso tomorrow seeking to take some consolation prize from the tournament.
Coach Leanna Malo Nogoagatotoa said they had no ball in the first half because of Vaiala’s good work at the kickoffs.
He said that forced them to defend a lot, which tired them out.
“We had a chance for the second half, but too many knock-ons.”
He said that’s what they would work on going into tomorrow.
“We have another chance tomorrow, the players will recover and come back.”