Manu Sevens lose London opener to France

By Thomas Airey, 25 May 2019

Samoa was beaten 14-22 by France in their opening game at the London round of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

It was a controlled performance from the French, with Samoa unable to make enough of their limited opportunities on attack.

France scored straight from the opening kickoff, passing the ball around before feeding Tavite Veredamu, who showed good pace to break away and score.

Samoa built their own patient attack once they got the ball back, and should have scored but for a penalty for holding on just a couple of metres out.

Veredamu scored again after some patient build-up, and Samoa found themselves in a 0-12 hole with a minute left in the half.

Playmaker Melani Matavao took it upon himself to provide some inspiration, fending off a couple of tackles and speeding away to get Samoa’s first try of the tournament.

Frenchman Johnathan Laugel took Matavao out after he scored as well, earning himself a yellow card just before the break.

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Returning Samoa centre Joe Perez took the second half kickoff brilliantly, and Samoa passed the ball around knowing that their superior numbers would eventually tell.

It was captain David Afamasaga that benefitted, and his try gave Samoa a 14-12 lead.

But France resumed their smooth attacking play when Laugel returned, and Samuel Alerte cashed in on a nicely timed inside ball to score, making it 14-17 with a quarter of the game to play.

More great work at the breakdown from France earned them a penalty and yet more possession, which saw Laugel score the try that put them out of reach.

Yet another breakdown steal sealed the win for France, who now look favourites to make the Cup quarterfinals from Pool B along with Fiji.

After the match, Manu Samoa 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said his team didn’t take the opportunities they got.

“Little bit of frustration because we turned so much ball over.”

He said the goal for the London 7s remains to win the Cup final.

“We’ve got a belief we can win the tournament, but we’ve gotta play well.”

Samoa’s next game was against Kenya and then Fiji.

By Thomas Airey, 25 May 2019

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