Oceania Under 19s- action galore in Apia
The pacific drums were beating loudly today at Apia Park, Samoa, as 6 Pacific tribes went to war and the Oceania U19s Championship stormed into its third round. Even the rain couldn't dampen the mood of motivation of these teams.
First up was Vanuatu v Cook Islands and the Cook's were unlucky not to capitalise on some slick running and backline play in the early exchanges of the first half. However, Vanuatu were eager and willing in defence and applied the brakes to the speedy wheels of the Cook Islands. Only ill discipline gave the Cooks opportunities to score via penalty goals.
As the first stanza drew to a close the Cook's backline chimed and broke through for a well earned five pointer. The Cooks were 18 - 0 up at the half.
Vanuatu came out firing in the second half and scored a well worked try, however they failed to convert. Penalties again let Vanuatu down in this half and the Cook's moved onto 24 - 5. Although spirited as the boys from Vanuatu were, it wasn't long before the Island seas parted and the Cook's ran away with a bonus point win 38 - 5.
A lively and spirited encounter between American Samoa and Tahiti followed. American Samoa, newcomers to this Tournament (and the game), started the match with a strong contest for the ball, and a willingness to run it from any part of the Park, and they were first to open their account with a solidly worked try.
However, their Island cousins were equally as motivated to register points and used their big men up front to charge up the middle and steam towards the American Samoa try line. A lapse in the American Samoa defence saw Tahiti score their first try of the Tournament. However, it wasn't long before American Samoa flexed their Island muscle and scored again. Tahiti rallied but the American Samoa support was excellent and they had warriors everywhere, ready to join in the action. American Samoa were healthily up 19 -10 at the break.
American Samoa came out pumped in the second half to score a quick try, and Tahiti quickly returned serve with one of their own. The spectators at Apia Park were in for a ding-dong tussle it seemed. However, American Samoa played smart rugby and keep turning Tahiti with well timed and placed kicks, and it wasn't long before the fresh, fast island wheels of the American Samoa outside backs beat Tahiti to the bounce of the ball and rounded to score under the posts and move the score to 31 - 15.
Great support play saw the ball sing, and the pace for American Samoa had them run away with it in the end to post a 52 - 20 score line.
By definition the last match of the day was a "friendly" between Samoa and PNG, however this game did not reflect a friendly. A spirited and tough game ensured, and for first 10 minutes neither team could build momentum. However, it wasn't long before Samoa built some structure and a platform to launch the raids into opposition territory that the warriors from this Island are renown. Ill discipline let PNG down, and their inability to build any structured play lead to the 22 - 0 score line at half time.
High risk rugby of speculation passes and chip kicks, hindered the PNG team from building a platform to launch an attack against their Island cousins. However, one kick and chase did pay off, with speed merchants and support play resulting in a well earned try in the corner. They again scored at the death, however Samoa ran out winners 34 -12.
Only the finals of this U19s Championship remain with the following set to be played on Friday 3 September at Apia Park.
5th v 6th play off -Vanuatu v Tahiti 12 Noon
3rd v 4th play off -American Samoa v PNG 1.45pm
Oceania U19 Championship Final -Samoa v Cook Islands 3.30pm