2012 Oceania Sevens: New Boys American Samoa Impress at Oceania Sevens Championship
On Day 1 of the 2012 Oceania Seven’s Championship under sunny skies at North Sydney Oval the two favourites for the title, Samoa and home team Australia, remained unbeaten. Form suggests that they are on course for a final showdown on day two when two of the competing teams will win qualification to the 2013 IRB Sevens World Cup in Moscow. New IRB full members American Samoa proved to be the surprise team of the first day with wins over Tonga and Solomon Islands.
For Australia the trio of Matt Lucas, Luke Morahan and captain Ed Jenkins provided the experience and flair and Australia enjoyed comfortable wins over Solomon Islands (47-0) and American Samoa (22-7) before a 45-0 win against Tonga in the last match of the day. Their reward was top spot in Pool B.
Coach Michael O’Connor said, “ Mission accomplished today. Our key aim is to secure a place in Moscow and we fielded a squad that over the two days should ensure that happens . We played well today and against Tonga in the last match it all clicked. It is all about momentum and that is what we achieved. That said our hardest match was against American Samoa who have surprised a lot of people and did very well to disrupt our breakdown possession and stop our continuity.”
Samoa has already qualified for the RWC Sevens in Moscow and brought to Sydney a team full of its next generation of young talent. It showed huge promise in a 47-0 win over Tahiti first up. However they blew a 19-0 lead against Cook Islands in the second match and the second half became a thriller. Cook Islands stormed back with four second half tries but a try from Samoa’s Sonny Fereti and a conversion was enough for a narrow 26-24 victory. A comfortable last match 46-12 win over PNG with captain Afa Aiono leading the way secured top spot in Pool A.
Aiono was pleased with the first day and praised his young team, “We started very slowly but built nicely through the day as the team became more confident and we reduced our mistakes. The young players are very excited to be here and keen to do well. We know the second day will get harder but we are ready to step up against teams such as Australia who also played very well today.”
The day’s major upset was caused by new boys American Samoa who beat Tonga. Tries to Pentatuch Vaki and Peter Masoe secured a 14-7 win that delighted coach Fana Fata, “They underestimated us that is for sure and we showed that we can compete at this level. This is first time we have been eligible to play in a senior IRB event. It is a fantastic result as we wanted to take the chance to impress. It is a big step for Rugby in American Samoa.”
American Samoa may have been beaten by Australia in Pool B in their second match but it enjoyed a 34-12 win against the Solomon Islands to finish second in the Pool ahead of Tonga.
Papua New Guinea showed glimpses of excellence and all round pace and could well be one of the surprise packets of the tournament along with American Samoa. With Albert Levy Jnr and Henry Liliket leading the way they have plenty of strike power and looked well organised in beating Cook Islands 24-12 and Tahiti 64-0. In their final match however they appeared to run out of steam and were overpowered physically by Samoa and lost 46-12 to finish second in Pool A
After the match PNG coach Warren Jennings declared, “ We knew the last match against Samoa was going to be much harder and it was disappointing that we let them get a good lead from which we never recovered. We talked about the physicality and unfortunately did not match Samoa in that department. Still we finished second in the Pool and are confident we can qualify for next year’s RWC Sevens finals with good performances on the second day.”
Tonga and Cook Islands were somewhat disappointing with just a win apiece to finish third in their respective Pools. That said Cook Islands pushed Samoa very close in their pool match and took some confidence into day two with a 66-0 win over Tahiti. Tonga’s one victory was against Solomon Islands.
Day 1 Results:
Papua New Guinea 24 Cook Islands 12
Samoa 47 Tahiti 0
Tonga 7 American Samoa 14
Australia 47 Solomon Islands 0
Papua New Guinea 64 Tahiti 0
Samoa 26 Cook Islands 24
Tonga 33 Solomon Islands 7
Australia 22 American Samoa 7
Cook Islands 66 Tahiti 0
Samoa 46 Papua New Guinea 12
American Samoa 34 Solomon Islands 12
Australia 45 Tonga 0
Day Two Match Schedule (Sunday August 26)
Match Time Match
13 11am Samoa v Solomon Islands
14 11:22am Papua New Guinea v Tonga
15 11:44am Cook Islands v American Samoa
16 12:06pm Tahiti v Australia
17 12:37pm Loser Match 13 v Loser Match 15
18 12:59pm Loser Match 14 v Loser Match 16
19 1:21pm Winner Match 13 v Winner Match 15
20 1:43pm Winner Match 14 v Winner Match 16
21 2:14pm 7th v 8th playoff – Loser Match 17 v Loser Match 18
22 2:36pm 5th v 6th playoff – Winner Match 17 v Winner Match 18
23 2:58pm 3rd v 4th playoff – Loser Match 19 v Loser Match 20
24 3:20pm Final – Winner Match 19 v Winner Match 20