ANZ Pacific Nations Cup. -Samoa beat Tonga.
Today saw a mighty clash of Island talent under the hot sun, in the end Samoa strength saw them get home 27-13.
With a kickoff just after high noon for round 3 of the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup, the heat really was on today’s test match.
Brutal is the first word that pops to mind watching today, testing is next to roll off the tongue, followed by committed. These men chucked everything at each other in a physical encounter, play was fair and everything was very hard. At the full time whistle Hale T Pole said a prayer for both teams and it summed the day up, he said “Thank you lord for making us able to play so well and so hard against each other, thank you also for making us brothers who love each after the game.”
The initial pace of the match was fizzing, the early forward battles were won by Tonga, but each time someone went into the tackle area they were greeted by hungry men chomping for combat. Ball retention was good and the wrestling for supremacy was hectic and very entertaining for the crowd. Nili Latu showed some amazing timing skills, on 2 separate occasions he appeared from nowhere to snuffle out a promising movement and make it a dead end street. He literally leaps into the tackles; the best part is in mid air his powerful frame re directs his victim to the Tongan side of the ruck.
The big men from Tonga all fired, Hale T Pole was on a mission and his vigor was noticed by the men in blue. So too were the rest of the pack, Tonga had the edge all day at scrum time and the important ruck area.
Samoa scored a great opportunist try to Joe Tekori, he picked up in a ruck and bolted 35 meters for a 5 pointer. Right before the end of the first half Samoa struck again. They spun it wide and Seilala Mapusua scored on the left wing, this dented the Tongan’s and the tide turned from then on in.
At the breather break after 40mins, Samoa stung Tonga again with the most fluid movement of the match. From deep in their own half Gavin Williams carved on the angle, Treviranus plucked his pass and kept running deep into Tonga real estate, he had options galore outside him and the try was scored on the left wing by Sailosi Tagicakibau. This stamped their mark on the game and the rest is history.
Standout players were some IRB World Sevens Series players; Ofisa Treviranus & fullback Lolo Lui had turbo whenever the ball touched their hands. Uale Mai also got some game time, the 3 of them all looked extremely comfortable in the 15s game and will cause trouble more and more.
Tonga never gave up, they kept pelting anything that came their way and they launched serious raids into Samoa territory in the dying minutes of the test, defence was desperate and unbelievably 2 tries were saved. When the ref blew for full time, Tonga was millimeters from the line, and there was a pack of bodies on the ground.