Savai'i Samoa kept their chances of qualifying for the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup final alive by defeating leaders and reigning champions Upolu Samoa 14-9 in Apia. Savai’i, who were third in the standings before Saturday’s match, produced an impressive performance reminiscent of those in their cup winning year of 2006, scoring two tries to move up to second in the standings and open up a three way final race with Upolu and Tautahi Gold.
Playing in temperatures of 33 degrees, the two Samoan sides through everything at each other in what was a bruising affair where no quarter was given and non taken. It took fully 30 minutes for the first points to be recorded, but it was Upolu who settled first, establishing a 6-0 lead at the interval courtesy of their impressive goal kicker Roger Warren.
While Upolu were favourites to ease away from their countrymen in the second period, it was Savai’i who ripped up the formbook to take the game by the throat and squeeze the life out of Upolu’s fearsome pack. Savai’i who took the initiative early on thanks to a try by Loleni Tafunai, which the openside also converted to give his side a 7-6 lead.
The match remained tight and although Warren nudged Upolu back into the lead with a long range penalty after 51 minutes, it was Savai’i who were in the ascendancy and they registered their second try of the match through international Semi Setiti in the dying moments of the game.
Replaceement Orlando Epa converted to leave the final score 14-9 to Savai’i and to add another twist to a competitive 2008 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup series. Tautahi Golds today post themselves as a serious final contenders after an overwhelming performance against the Fiji Barbarians in Nuku'alofa. The Tautahi Golds end the Fiji Barbarian's hope of making the final in a convincing 20-0 one-sided affair.
The Tautahi Golds kept their cool and composure intact with the help of their superstar captain Nili Latu. They dominated the rucks, mauls, lineouts and scrum right throughout the game. In the final few minutes of the game, the Fijians showed a gutsy effort trying to cross over for a try but the Tautahi Golds denied them.
The wind, rain, wet and slippery paddock played a major role in the scoreline. High rate of handling errors, unable to execute moves etc. resulted in scores being prevented. All due to wet and slippery weather.
Despite the bad weather, Golds mixed their game well, they combined their classy defense and attack to claim a three-to-nil 20-0 win to put themselves on top of the table.This was there third consecutive win with one game to play before confirming a spot in the final. Next week the Tautahi Golds will travel to Samoa to play Upolu Samoa in the last game of the Rounds.
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