Manu 7s downed by Fiji in Hamilton opener

The Manu Samoa 7s couldn't capitalise on their chances during a 19-12 loss to Fiji in their opening game of the Hamilton 7s. 

They had plenty of possession and territory, particularly in the first half, but a few timely errors and Fiji's ability to score from anywhere cost Samoa in the end.

An error of Fiji's got the game under way, as they put the opening kick-off out on the full.

After missing the previous World Rugby Sevens Series leg to look after his measles-afflicted family, playmaker Laaloi Leilua made an instant impact on his return to the side.

He took the tap on halfway, sold two dummy passes and went through the line to bring the Manu within metres from scoring. 

A couple phases later Va'a Apelu Maliko, starting in his first Series leg after a year out from rugby, crashed over to make it 7-0 with less than a minute played.

Fiji spilled John Vaili's deep kickoff as well, putting Samoa straight back on the attack.

But captain Tomasi Alosio got himself isolated and conceded possession.

Fiji broke in classic fashion, and when the Manu overcommitted at a ruck on halfway, found themselves with a five-man overlap.

Jerry Tuwai went in to make it 7-7 in the 3rd minute, becoming Fiji's all-time top tryscorer in the process.

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A penalty against Fiji gave Samoa the chance to hit back, as they kicked for a lineout inside the 22-metre line with two minutes left.

Tomasi Alosio knocked on though, as what looked to be an easy opportunity to score went begging.

The mistake was further punished when Fiji took the ball coast-to-coast to score as the first half expired; Vilimoni Botitu making it 12-7 at the break.

Alosio started the second half brightly though, recovering the kickoff for his country and bringing them 10 metres from the tryline immediately.

Fiji were applying real pressure at the breakdown but the Manu held on, recycling the ball well without threatening the line.

Eventually the ball was flung out to Joe Perez, who stepped around his man out wide to score in the corner and make it 12-12 in the 10th minute.

Fiji kept the ball alive from kickoff, moving play up into the 22 before debutant Uaina Sione received a yellow card for slowing their ruck ball down.

Aminiasi Tuimaba scored immediately for Fiji, making it 19-12 with just over two minutes left.

Samoa had one last chance in the final minute after Sione's return from the bin, when Alamanda Motuga was able to force a Fiji knock-on.

They made good ground through Elisapeta Alofipo from the defensive scrum, when a high tackle penalty earned them a lineout just over halfway.

But Fiji stole the ball at the breakdown after a Motuga half-break to seal the result.

Samoa sit third in Pool D ahead of their match against Argentina, who lost 38-7 to Australia in the earlier match.

Kickoff is at 8:05 pm Samoan time.

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