Under 20s RWC- NZ vs Samoa hitout

Samoa captain Afa Aiono. photo Zoomfiji

Samoa captain Afa Aiono. photo Zoomfiji

June 04, 2008 - 10:04am

Samoa U20 took on their NZ U20 counterparts in a pre hit out prior to going to the Junior World Champs in Wales.  Both sides will have gained a lot out of the match and is probably just what the number 1 seeded New Zealand side wanted to remain number 1. 
 
Much to everyone's shock Samoa scored first with Aaron Smith crossing under the sticks after some very good broken play by the Samoans. Not long after a reply by NZ was scored. However Samoa struck back again quickly with another well worked try to captain Afa Aiono after exposing some NZ deficiencies on defence around the ruck. For 25 minutes the score was 12-7 to the boys in blue with the many Samoan supporters in approval.
 
However NZ had now begun to wake up and realised they needed to play their uncompromising style of rugby and that Samoa were not going to be the easy push over that they thought they would encounter. NZ then rose to another level and took the halftime lead to 31-12. NZ raised the pace and unleashed some powerful runners one of them being a Samoan Peter Saili who looks destined for some good performances at the world champs. It often took 3 or 4 tacklers to stop the powerful NZ runners. NZ's ability to up the tempo and speed up the game allowed to run away comfortable winners 55-12, the game plan was simple in the end, unleash a powerful runner, commit defenders and then spread the ball wide where they often found they had overlaps. Defence was a key area that let the Samoans down considering that the Samoan are world renowned for being hard hitting tacklers.  Analysis showed they missed 40 tackles and against a team like NZ they will make you pay.
 
For Samoa it was a tough learning curve but now they will be under no illusions in how tough the matches will be in Wales. For 25 minutes they gained parity with the number one ranked side and this surely must give them self belief before they leave NZ on Sunday. Samoa are pooled with South Africa, Scotland and USA and are targeting finishing in the top 2 of the pool and see themselves as serious contenders for the business end of the competition. If they can play to their potential for a full 80 mins and shore up the defence then this certainly is possible.
 
The Auckland Samoa Rugby Union and Community fare welled the U20 side at a dinner at the Otahuhu Rugby Club on Friday evening.  A significant amount of money was raised and donated to the team to help with expenses, which is often customary for visiting teams to NZ from Samoa. They were fare welled with prayer and singing and full blessings from the Samoan community in Auckland to go forth and do all Samoan's proud.

Samoa's campaign begins this weekend in Wales.