Oceania Sevens- Day 1 Men's wrap
Tonga and Samoa shared the spoils on Day 1 of the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 Oceania Qualifers in Apia, Samoa.
The star studded Samoan Sevens team delighted the vocal home crowd with a 47-5 victory over Niue in the opening match of the Oceania Sevens today in Apia. The hosts ran in 7 tries to 1 with David Lemi bagging a pair.
Defending Oceania Sevens Champions, Tonga opened their campaign with a 39-0 victory over Vanuatu. Sione Fonua scored three tries in the win.
Papua New Guinea, who prepared for the tournament with a week-long camp in Fiji, scored a 31-7 Victory over their Melanesian neighbours, Solomon Islands. The PNG Team were brilliant and seemed to have added an element of flair and surprise to their traditional physical style of game and subsequently looked a very dangerous team indeed.
Cook Islands rounded out the first round of the men's competition with a 43-0 win over Tahiti. The huge Cook Island team have sounded a warning to their Pool B rivals with a physical and skilful performance. Kilonia Samania in particular was impressive bagging three tries.
Samoa's second match resulted in a 67-0 thumping of Solomon Islands. 2007 IRB Sevens Player of the year, Uale Mai spearheaded Samoa's assault with two tries, along with Mathew Iakopo and Timoteo Iosua who each scored two a piece.
Tonga had to work hard against a very impressive Tahiti outfit to record a 26-7 victory in the last match before the break. The Tahitians adopted a confronting game plan determined not to give the Tongan backs any room - and had it not been for a sterling three try performance from Teu Nafe, the Tongans could well have been the first high profile victims of the 2008 Oceania Sevens.
Niue bounced back from their first round thrashing to post a surprise 17-12 victory over Papua New Guinea. The Niuean's stunned their more fancied rivals with solid - shutting down the dangerous PNG speedsters by limiting the width of the ball. Tries to Vincent Piitigia, Leonale Bourke and Afele Leona. PNG threatened to steal the match at the end but a try to Solomopn Joseph three minutes from time was all they could muster.
Cook Islands continued their impressive start by defeating Vanuatu 33-12 in the last match of the second round. The Cooks once again looked very dangerous, posting 5 tries against the lightning-quick ni-Vanuatu, with Nathan Robinson touching down for a pair.
Niue secured second place in Pool A and a shot at Dubai with a 19-10 victory over Solomon Islands - but not without a scare. The Solomon Islands team, which by their own admission have had a disappointing Day 1, finally hit their straps, playing some inspiring Sevens Rugby and a try with four minutes from time to bring them within 9 points of Niue set the stage for an enthralling final few minutes. Niue held on however and in doing so, booked themselves for a crack at Dubai on Day 2 of the Oceania Sevens.
Tahiti and Vanuatu, two of the more entertaining teams of the tournament so far, finished their respective preliminary competition - with Vanuatu taking the honours 20-12.
Tonga secured top spot in Pool B with a 22-5 victory over Cook Islands, who finished in second spot. Both teams have thus qualified for the semi finals on Day two and will battle it out for a shot at the World Cup. Tonga scored four tries to Cook Islands' one including the match winner by 2008 PRC Grand Final Man of the Match Setaleki Lu'au.
Tonga will play Niue in the first Cup Semi-final on Day 2. Cook Islands will play Samoa in the second semi after the Tournament hosts secured top spot of Pool A with a 38 to 7 win over Papua New Guinea in the final match of Day 1.