Points difference costs Samoa 7s Cup quarterfinal in Cape Town
For the second week in a row, Samoa were unlucky to finish third in their World Rugby Sevens Series pool.
Once again they ended Day One on seven points, equal with the first and second teams in their pool.
Samoa will play Wales in the Challenge quarterfinal on Day Two, where the best they can finish is 9th overall.
They looked underdogs heading in to this Sevens Series round in Cape Town, having drawn the reigning Series champions and hosts South Africa, as well as New Zealand, the winners of last week’s tournament in Dubai.
Samoa opened the campaign against South Africa, who were clinical in a 22-12 win.
They scored first through a try to David Afamasaga, and lead 7-0 until deep into the first half.
The momentum shifted when Alatasi Tupou received a yellow card, and the hosts ran in two tries to take the lead.
They would score twice more, with a consolation try to Johnny Vaili as time expired Samoa’s only second half points.
A last second try in the next game against New Zealand was far more consequential.
Tila Mealoi ran the length of the field after taking a penalty quickly to steal a 21-17 win for Samoa.
It was coach Sir Gordon Tietjens’ first ever win over his former side.
Samoa took an early lead through Alamanda Motuga before conceding twice again, and trailed 12-7 at halftime.
Afamasaga got his second try of the day and Samoa lead 14-12 until New Zealand scored with a minute left.
They looked certain to score again until the breakdown penalty, and Mealoi and Samoa had their famous victory.
Going into the final game against Zimbabwe, Samoa would have been aware of the need to bolster their points differential.
South Africa and New Zealand both had big wins over the part-time Sevens Series nation earlier, so without a similar result Samoa would leave themselves open to a repeat of last week’s Day One heartbreak.
They won 33-12, and it could have been closer were a clear try to the dangerous Tafadza Chitokwindo incorrectly denied by the video referee.
New Zealand’s subsequent 26-21 win over South Africa meant Samoa just missed out on a Cup quarterfinal again.
The Challenge quarterfinal against Wales will be played at 10:36pm tonight Samoan time.