Oceania under 19s- Samoa sails into the final.
Samoa are playing at home and are on top of their game as they beat Tonga the defending Oceania champions today by 13-11. In the process they booked themselves a place in the final for a crack at the Oceania tile.
In an eagerly awaited match, the first sound was the whistle to start the match; the second sound was a massive thud of the first fierce tackle of the match. From this moment on a brutal display of Island power and pace unfolded on Apia Park.
Ground conditions were perfect, the track was dry and made for a good fast game, it was also hard and bouncy when the kicks that come with these new rules were made. In true Pacific style neither of these squads has been together for long, however both sides had superb set pieces. Lineouts were operating like a dream and the huge packs heaved everything into the scrum time. This entire muscle overdose set the tone for a beauty of a game that went right down to the wire.
Hunting like a hound dog the openside flanker Iosefa Tima Sa for Samoa was all over the ball, he launched into everything red that ran at him, then he wrestled with all his might to get the valuable ball. Running at him was a mighty pack of Tongan’s, there loosies were a trio of talent and they made Samoa earn every bit of pill they got.
After a lot of tight tussle the flow of the game opened up, big men made way for fleet footed backs that stepped and ran with zest. The kick fest of modern rugby came right into the game, the talent in receiving testing aerial ball and counter attacking was sublime. Moments in time, or possible panic were erased with talent. Sitting under a high bomb and knowing some big fella’s are flying at you is not easy, the wingers and full backs from each team responded to this difficulty with maturity of test players.
Looking at the scoring moments Samoa had 2 fine tries, the first was a powerful run from their captain and prop Viliamu Afatia at the 22-minute mark. His team had been chipping away at the Tongan line and were denied. After a penalty they opted for a quick tap and he put his head down and crashed over the line. Samoa missed the conversion and continued to miss a few attempts at points from the boot, luckily for them this didn’t count against them at the end.
Tonga on the other hand did have their kicking shoes on, number 10 Patrick Makaafi honed into the posts and slotted a great goal to peg back some points. These 2 actions were the only points on the first half and it was all on for part 2.
The next 22 minutes were very fierce, attack was alive and defense was up to the task to stop it. Then came a slick movement of fast hands to feed fast wheels of Samoa’s winger Sani Nuie, he took his chance and crashed over on the right corner.
Samoa was sitting up 13-3 and looking pretty, this is when Tongan pride kicked in and they stormed back into the match in the last 5 minutes of play. First it was a penalty to narrow the gap to 7 points, then in the last minute Tonga’s captain Seilame Tukuafu nabbed a try to sniff at the hope of a draw. The try was after a great forward shunt and drive from the red pack, the problem was it was out wide and the conversion was missed. Play went on with a bit of extra play, this anxious time had the crowd on the edge of it’s seats and gallant Tonga never said die.
In the end Samoa hung on for a fine win, it was based on power and now they head into the final on a high. They will want to sharpen up on their control, but there is no doubt they will be very very hard to beat in the final.