Manu Samoa failed game plan: Coach

By Shalveen Chand 29 September 2023, 5:00PM

The prospect of a quarter-final berth in the Rugby World Cup has slipped away from Manu Samoa, the focus has now shifted to finishing in a better position to have automatic qualification for the next World Cup.

Japan beat Manu Samoa 28-22 in a pulsating match. Manu Samoa head coach Vaovasamanaia admitted that the team did not execute the game plan and Japan were able to exploit that part of their game.

"If we had held on to the ball a bit more we would have been able to put ourselves in a position to score more points,” he said.

"It’s a trend in our last three games which we haven’t managed to nail. That’s definitely an area myself and the coaching team takes full responsibility for.

"Really proud of the effort. We were able to get ourselves into a position to offload, but we just couldn’t execute.”

Vaovasamanaia admitted that the two yellow cards and the red card had Manu Samoa on the backfoot and Japan punished them for that.

When the team was announced, lock forward Chris Vui was given the honours to lead the team, however when the game started, Fritz Lee was captain and no sign on Vui.

"Chris had a personal matter to attend to, which he did. Steven came straight in and I thought he played really well filling that role, especially at the last minute,” Vaovasamanaia said.

"He didn’t stop trying. That’s what I expect from someone of Steven’s calibre. He is a real asset to the team.”

The coach is not leaving anything to chance and knows that Manu Samoa will not make the quarter finals.

"We still have one more game and we have a lot to play for. We may be out of the quarter-finals, but we want to make sure that we can automatically qualify for Australia 2027, which is a very big carrot for us,” he said.

"We don’t get many chances to play England so we will be putting everything into that game and we want to finish the tournament on a positive note."

"It has been a tough 12 days with the three games. It’s taken a bit of a toll on us physically but now we have eight or nine days until we play England so hopefully it’s not too bad. We’ll have a better idea in the next 24 to 48 hours."

Fullback Duncan Paia'aua said Manu Samoa Japan were really good with their kicking game and made Samoa pay.

"We will put everything into England. We are a team that is building and to topple a team like England would be huge for our country. We want to give back to our family and friends and our country, so it is a big game next week," he said.

Manu Samoa captain Fritz Lee said the team failed to execute the game plan and take advantage of possession.

"We didn’t execute but I can't fault the effort of the boys during the game. It’s fixable stuff we need to fix. The level of rugby these days, if you don’t execute then you get punished by the opposition."

Samoa are placed third in Pool D with six points. England have qualified from that pool as the top teams just after three games. Japan is second with nine points while Argentina four with just four points however they are yet to play their remaining two matches.

Manu Samoa will face England on Sunday 8 October at 4.45am in the final pool game.

By Shalveen Chand 29 September 2023, 5:00PM
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