Kagifa Samoa lose thrilling opener
A Kagifa side bearing the name Samoa, but featuring few Samoan players and not a single one based in Samoa have lost their opening game of Global Rapid Rugby; a last-second thriller won 38-32 by the Fijian Latui at Churchill Park in Lautoka.
Kagifa Samoa looked perhaps the more cohesive of the two sides in the opening match of the Pacific Showcase Series of Global Rapid Rugby, but the gamebreaking ability of the Fijians won out as they scored five tries to four.
Kagifa scored first however, as lock Mike McKee (whose mother is from Rarotonga) intercepted a loose Latui pass inside their own 22 metre line.
The home team hit back twice though, through tries to John Stewart and Peni Naulago to take a 10-7 lead.
The Latui then scored a nine-point power try, awarded in Global Rapid Rugby to a team that scores from an attack starting inside their own 22.
Kagifa Samoa had toiled away with very little possession in the first 15 minutes, when they were given a lifeline.
Two Latui players were involved in a dangerous tip tackle, with both of them receiving yellow cards.
Kagifa scored a try soon after through Dylan Lam, and got another intercept within the Latui 22 for an easy try to Tongan centre Paki Afu, making it 19-19 at halftime.
The Latui almost scored another power try, but Kagifa held them up with desperate defence close to the line.
However Johnny Dyer scored for the hosts off the back of the resulting scrum.
Kagifa replied after a terrific box kick from captain and Tongan international halfback Leon Fukofuka, which Afu chased down for his second try.
Both sides were messy over the next ten minutes, until Stewart benefitted from some slick Latui offloading to make it 31-29 to his team with seven minutes remaining.
Tongan international first five Latiume Fosita kicked his second penalty of the game to give Kagifa a one-point lead heading into the final three minutes.
But Ifereimi Tovilevu scored in the corner for the home team as time expired, giving them the 38-32 win.
Fukofuka said his team will get better as the Pacific Showcase Series goes on.
“Our team’s only been together for two trainings.
“The way we played it looked like we’ve been together for a whole month."
Kagifa Samoa's next game is against the Western Force in Australia on the 31st of May.
Starting XV: 1.Misioka TIMOTEIO, 2.Frank MALU, 3.Ausetalia VAIOMANU, 4.Michael MCKEE, 5.Matiaha MARTIN, 6.Callum ADAMS, 7.Caleb FAALILI, 8.Fotu LOKOTUI, 9.Leon FUKOFUKA(C), 10.Latiume FOSITA, 11.David FELIUAI, 12.Paki AFU, 13.Augustine MAFO’E, 14.Ah Mu TUIMALEALIIFANO, 15.Kalione HALA
Reserves: 25.Peter FAALILI, 24.Sevanaia ROKOTUINACEVA, 22.Taniela KOROI, 21.Dylan LAM, 20.Laisenia RAURA, 17.Siaosi NGININGINI, 18.Maui HAUSIA, 16.Jope TIKOILEPANONI