Manu Samoa beats USA Eagles in Pacific Nations Cup opener

USA 16 v Samoa 21

Manu Samoa smashed the home crowd’s hopes for an upset when they beat the USA Eagles 21-16 in front of 10,017 people at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California Friday night.

Manu Samoa dominated in the first half and came out firing early showing real intent by starving the Eagles of possession.

First five-eighth Patrick Fa’apale secured a small buffer with three penalty kicks in the first half, to USA’s one, before skipper Alesana Tuilagi set the Samoan supporters into full noise as he collected a pop pass from fullback Ah See Tuala on the 22m line, and headed for the tryline 10 minutes from half time.

Just five minutes later, Tuilagi returned the favour with a cross kick that beat the USA defenders, allowing Tuala to cross for a comfortable try.  Fa’apale converted the first of the tries, to help send the Manu to the sheds up 3-21.

Coach Stephen Betham acknowledged that the second half was a vastly different.

“The final reaction was a sigh of relief.  But the game was one of two halves.  They played well in the first half and in the second half, fell off the boil.

“We wanted to see what these players had to offer, and we got to see some of that tonight, as we look at selecting our best team for Rugby World Cup.

“There were some good individual performances, but we need them to act as a team and close out the opposition early.”

USA came back in the second half and were greedy with possession holding Manu Samoa scoreless in the second 40, as well as several attempts to pick and go at the Samoan line.

Their persistence paid off with a try to replacement prop Titi Lamositele.

“The USA defence upset us in the second half … but credit to the USA, they defended well and kept us on our toes,” Betham said.

SAMOA 27: Tries A Tuilagi, Tuala. Faapale conv, 3 pen

USA 16: Tries: Lamositele. MacGinty conv, 3 pen

The team v USA:
1. Sakaria Taulafo
2. Ma’atulimanu Leiataua
3. Anthony Perenise
4. Teofilo Paulo
5. Fa’atiga Lemalu
6. Jack Lam
7. TJ Ioane
8. Vavae Tuilagi *
9. Vavao Afemai
10. Patrick Fa’apale
11. Alesana Tuilagi (captain)
12. Faialaga Afamasaga
13. Paul Perez
14. Sinoti Sinoti
15. Ah See Tuala

Reserves:
16. Motu Matu’u *
17. Viliamu Afatia
18. Jake Grey
19. Maselino Paulino
20. Oneone Faafou
21. Pele Cowley
22. Johnny Leota
23. Faatoina Autagavaia
* to debut for Manu Samoa

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