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By FORU Media Unit
Samoa has claimed the 2011 Oceania Sevens Championship defeating Fiji 19-7 in the mud at Apia Park.
The two great rivals produced another arm-wrestle that was only settled when captain, and local hero, Uale Mai touched down in the corner in front of a delirious crowd.
Mai said he was very happy for the team.
“We had to work hard today in the conditions and against a good team even though they brought many new players,” said Mai. “The key was to play together for the home crowd.”
Samoa scored three tries to one and were always in control of the final.
A simple scrum move saw Ofisa Treviranus, playing at centre, score the opening try but Fiji hammered away gaining a 5-metre scrum and went close to scoring through winger Aporosa Tabulawaki.
A penalty in the Fiji 22 created a lineout drive for the hosts but the Fijian defence held on, despite referee James McPhail appearing not to hear the halftime hooter.
In the second half Semi Radradra was run down by the Samoan defence but the tournament’s leading tryscorer Fa’alemiga Selesele burst through for his eighth try of the tournament before Mai brought Samoa home.
Radradra scored a late consolation try to make the score 19-7 but Fiji made little headway through the tough Samoan defence.
It was Samoa’s third Oceania Sevens Championship, after winning in 2008 and 2009, and will see them be one of the favourites ahead of the HSBC Sevens World Series which starts next month.
Tonga Claim HSBC Sevens World Series Spots
Tonga finished on a high defeating Australia 28-12 to claim third place and two more spots on the world circuit.
Tonga’s Atalea Okati showed great dribbling skills in the mudbath to score first and Paula Kata bagged his fifth try of the tournament after breaking through some weak Australia defence. Okati scored his second after strong work in the maul and suddenly Tonga held a 21-0 lead.
Right on halftime Lindsay Crook got the Aussies on the board with a converted try.
Down 7-21 the young Australians needed to score first but Jack Ram struck with a runaway try to guarantee victory and Pama Fou’s late score, from a nice outside break, was not enough.
“I am very happy to qualify for Hong Kong and Wellington especially as the players are all local players (from Tonga) and we have only been training for a couple of weeks,” said coach Manu Vunipola. “We lost to Samoa and it was tough in the rain and mud but we are used to that in Tonga!
“We are looking forward to keeping the squad together for the Gold Coast and we thank our supporters in Tonga and around the world.”
Cooks Down New Kids
Earlier, the Cook Islands also booked a trip to the Wellington tournament beating the weekend’s big improvers, American Samoa, 12-7.
Veteran Koiatu Koiatu led the Cooks’ charge in the first half.
The 33-year old saved a certain try when he ran down McClusky Fa’agata and ran in his first try soon after to give the Cooks a 7-0 lead. Koiatu followed that with a score in the corner and another defensive save to make the halftime result 12-0.
America Samoa, who beat New Caledonia and Niue this weekend, gave themselves a chance with a converted try to Kamilo Soi but the Cooks stepped up a gear and closed out a narrow two tries-to-one victory and finish fifth.
Pukpuks Repeat Niue Dose
In the playoff for 7th and 8th Papua New Guinea and Niue struggled through the heavy conditions and it was Papua New Guinea who found enough left in the tank to win 12-5.
The result was similar to the bronze medal match at the Pacific Games where PNG won 10-5.
Niue’s Sanualio Sakalia scored in the corner after stand-out Tony Pulu created the overlap but PNG captain Roland Namo responded immediately and the ‘Pukpuks’ led 7-5 at halftime.
The second half was largely forgettable until Tisa Kautu scrambled over for PNG’s second try after a break by Chris Kakah and there was no further action.
Both teams will attend the opening event of the HSBC Sevens World Series on the Gold Coast.
Samoa 19 Fiji 7
3rd and 4th
Australia v Tonga
5th and 6th
Cook Islands 12 American Samoa 5
7th and 8th
Papua New Guinea 12 Niue 7
9th and 10th
New Caledonia 25 Solomon Islands 17
DAY ONE - 28-10-2011
10:00am Tonga - 19 v Papua New Guinea - 19 Apia Park, Samoa
10:22am Samoa - 47 v Niue - 0 Apia Park, Samoa
10:44am American Samoa - 38 v New Caledonia - 7 Apia Park, Samoa
11:06am Cook Islands - 19 v Solomon Islands - 7 Apia Park, Samoa
11:37am Fiji - 21 v Tonga - 0 Apia Park, Samoa
11:59am Papua New Guinea - 21 v American Samoa - 17 Apia Park, Samoa
12:21pm Cook Islands - 12 v Niue - 19 Apia Park, Samoa
12:43pm Samoa - 35 v Australia - 12 Apia Park, Samoa
1:14pm New Caledonia - 5 v Tonga - 45 Apia Park, Samoa
1:36pm Papua New Guinea - 0 v Fiji - 48 Apia Park, Samoa
1:58pm Niue - 27 v Solomon Islands - 7 Apia Park, Samoa
2:20pm Australia - 31 v Cook Islands - 12 Apia Park, Samoa
2:51pm American Samoa - 5 v Tonga - 26 Apia Park, Samoa
3:13pm New Caledonia - 0 v Fiji - 47 Apia Park, Samoa
3:35pm Solomon Islands - 10 v Australia - 33 Apia Park, Samoa
3:57pm Cook Islands - 0 v Samoa - 60 Apia Park, Samoa
4:34pm Papua New Guinea - 45 v New Caledonia - 7 Apia Park, Samoa
4:56pm Fiji - 61 v American Samoa - 0 Apia Park, Samoa
5:18pm Niue - 17 v Australia - 24 Apia Park, Samoa
5:40pm Solomon Islands - 7 v Samoa - 39 Apia Park, Samoa
DAY TWO - 29-10-2011
12:00pm Fiji - 41 v Cook Islands - 0 Apia Park, Samoa
12:22pm Tonga - 15 v Niue - 10 Apia Park, Samoa
12:44pm Papua New Guinea - 0 v Australia - 12 Apia Park, Samoa
1:06pm American Samoa - 0 v Samoa - 41 Apia Park, Samoa
1:28pm New Caledonia - 17 v Solomon Islands - 12 Apia Park, Samoa
1:50pm Cook Islands - 10 v Papua New Guinea - 0 Apia Park, Samoa
2:12pm Niue - 5 v American Samoa - 17 Apia Park, Samoa
2:34pm Fiji - 33 v Australia - 5 Apia Park, Samoa
2:56pm Tonga - 0 v Samoa - 33 Apia Park, Samoa
3:48pm Papua New Guinea - 12 v Niue - 5 Apia Park, Samoa
4:10pm Cook Islands - 12 v American Samoa - 7 Apia Park, Samoa
4:32pm Australia - 12 v Tonga - 28 Apia Park, Samoa
4:54pm Fiji - 7 v Samoa - 19 Apia Park, Samoa
Over 500 young men and women had the opportunity to show off their skills and athleticism yesterday, as the Australian Rugby Union’s Search for a Star took place across the country looking to identify players who may have the potential to represent their country in Rugby Sevens.