Samoa outlast Japan in Sigatoka
Samoa survived a second-half rally by an immensely improved Japanese to win 34-15.
After a rousing opening against the Junior All Blacks the Manu Samoa were staring down the barrel of defeat against an energetic Japanese outfit – rousing back from a 12-15 deficit to eventually win 34-15.
The Manu Samoa found it hard to break the stoic Japanese defence before unleashing their superior forward play in the final twenty minutes.
The Japanese did not take their foot off the accelerator for the full 8-0 minutes – dominating territory in the last 10 minutes.
A penalty try was the opening scoring play in the 24th minutes for a scrum infringement on their try line. Gavin Williams converted to give the Samoan’s a 7-0 lead. The lead was extended by Justin Vaa after he positioned himself beautifully in support to score a well-deserved try. Samoa went into halftime with 12-3 lead.
Japan burst out of the blocks in the second half – flustering the Samoans with outstanding defence. Fullback Jack Tarrant scored the first of two quick tries, touching down in the corner on the back of great lead-up work from the forwards. Try converted Ryan Nicolas to peg the score back to 10-12.
Hirotoki Onozowa scored three minutes later in an almost carbon-copy version of Tarrant’s try – scorching down the touch line to earn a welcome try and give the brave Blossoms a 15-12 lead for the first time in the game.
Samoa struck back almost immediately with a try to Sailosi Tagicakibau and another almost immediately to Mahonri Schwalger 2 minutes later to give the Samoans a 24-15 lead 12 minutes into the second half.
Japan’s consistent, tenacious and well-organised defence kept the Samoans under pressure and made for a thrilling second half. It wasn’t until midway through the second half that Samoa gained some ascendancy courtesy of a try to replacement five-eighth Esera Lauina. Samoa 29-15.
The oldest man in the tournament, Samoan stalwart, fittingly closed out the match with a try 12 minutes from time to give Samoa a tough 34-15 win. Japan are in Fiji to win and today’s display will put all teams on notice. For Samoa – it’s a valuable bonus points win – their second bonus point in two games.