Samoa drops to seventh in World Series
The Manu Samoa 7s defeated Spain 38-7 in the 13th place playoff on Day Three of the Cape Town Sevens.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak going back to the first leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai, and ensured Samoa salvaged something from a difficult tournament in South Africa.
Their struggles looked set to continue when Spain recovered the opening kickoff, and Losi Filipo was penalised for not releasing the ball carrier at the very first ruck.
Samoa were forced to defend for long periods in the first half, with Spain eager to keep possession.
The tense encounter was finally blown open in the sixth minute of play, when Tuna Tuitama went through a hole after a scrum, and offloaded to Tofatuimoana Solia who ran 50 metres for the first try of the game.
Elisapeta Alofipo recovered the kickoff for Samoa, getting them straight into the 22 with under a minute left in the half.
Spain were penalised for offside, and Belgium Tuatagaloa went in to score after a quick tap, making it 14-0 at halftime.
Samoa's attack really started to click in the second half, with Tuna Tuitama at the centre of much of their good play.
The 19-year-old dummyed from the base of a ruck then took off, showing great pace to score a 70 metre try in the corner in the eighth minute of play.
The Manu 7s got the resulting kickoff back as well, and captain Tomasi Alosio had himself an easy try when Spain transitioned to defence poorly.
Samoa's momentum was halted somewhat when John Vaili was sinbinned for taking the man in the air at the restart.
Spain eventually made use of the extra numbers, with Juan Ramos crossing for his side's only try of the game with a couple minutes left on the clock.
Substitute Paulo Scanlan, perhaps one of the Manu 7s best through the opening rounds of the Series, made an impact immediately after coming on.
The 23-year-old is a real weapon in broken play, and he was typically fast and evasive in scoring Samoa's fifth try.
Their final five-pointer came through Kelvin Masoe in just the second match of his international career.
The 20-year-old, who fans have been crying out to see at the highest level for some time, got the ball out wide after a scrum.
Masoe, who finished third in the Pacific Games 100m sprints in July, showed every bit of his breakneck pace, holding the ball like a relay baton in one hand on his way to score in the corner with the final act of the game.
His and Tuna Tuitama's performances register as a couple of the few bright spots from the Cape Town campaign.
The 13th place result takes Samoa from fourth to seventh in the overall Series standings, although it could have been worse for the Manu.
They were one of several teams to underperform in Cape Town; among four of the Dubai quarterfinalists who slumped into the lower half of the draw.
Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens has long cited consistency as the key to success on the World Rugby Sevens Series, but his side's first two tournaments of the season stand in stark contrast to each other - fourth in Dubai, fourth-to-last in Cape Town.
They don't get a chance to put things right until the end of January next year, with the Hamilton leg scheduled for the 25th and 26th.
Through Dubai and Cape Town, the returning Belgium Tuatagaloa is fourth equal in overall clean breaks with seven.
Samoa's relatively low-pass style means they have four players in the top ten for carries; Tuatagaloa, Elisapeta Alofipo, Joe Perez and Tofatuimoana Solia, who leads the Series with 37.
Samoa 38 (Solia, Tuatagaloa, Tuitama, Alosio, Scanlan, Masoe tries; Alosio 4/5 cons, Vaili 0/1 cons)
Spain 7 (Ramos try; Hernandez 1/1 con)