Flying Fijians Dominate to Secure a 33-19 Win Over Manu Samoa at Apia Park


Sat 29 July Apia Samoa. The Flying Fijians dominated in the first half to secure a 33-19 win over Manu Samoa infront of their home crowd at Apia Park on Saturday afternoon.

Samoa is the Home of Taula.

It was the Manu’s second hit-out of the pre-world cup build up and head coach Vaovasamanaia had made nine changes to the side that beat Japan 24-22 in Hokkaido.

Samoa kicked off the much anticipated match against Fiji at Apia Park with all the possession to start but failed to turn that into points.

Instead Samoa gave Fiji a scrum 60 meters from their try line. A set piece move from the scrum saw a Selestino Ravutaumada  line break that advanced Fiji to just 5 meters from scoring a try.

In trying to stop the Fijian momentum, Samoa gave away a penalty. The Flying Fijians took a quick tap and caught Samoa napping to score their first try.

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In a blink of an eye, almost from kickoff, Fiji found themselves in the exact same spot they were at just minutes before – five meters from the tryline.

The ball went to their skipper Semi Radradra who pulled in all the Samoa defenders and put Iosefo Masi under the post for Fiji’s second try.

Trailing 12-0 infront of an expectant home crowd, the pressure on the Men in Blue was evident as the Samoa scrum buckled to the strength of the Fijians, forcing another penalty.

Fiji kicked for the corner and walked their driving maul over the line to extend their lead to 17-0 with only 17 minutes on the clock.

New arrivals at SOS – branches in Apia and Salelologa.
Manu Samoa v Flying Fijians Apia Park 29.7.2023 Photos: Francine Soti-Fiaui, SGN.

Fritz Lee went on to regroup and regather his men under the goal post as the Fijians missed the conversion.

Samoa kicked-off again; this time with a pep to their step. Nigel Ah Wong forced a Fijian error from the kickoff and Samoa went on the attack.

Danny Toala showed some fancy skills to put Ah Wong into space before the winger returned the pass to Toala.

Photos: Francine Soti-Fiaui, SGN.

Toala delivered an offload to Christian Leali’ifano who crossed over under a heavy Fijian defensive pileup to score Samoa’s first points.

Fiji would go on to capitalise on Samoa giving away another penalty to take their lead to 20-5.

Nothing was going right for Samoa’s forward pack and Fiji continued its dominance to extend its lead further to 27-5 with a try to elusive winger Selestino Ravutaumada.

Fiji had received a kick in their own red zone and in classic Fijian fashion they disrupted the Samoan defense with offload after offload before Ravutaumada was seen sprinting down the line to score Fiji’s 4th try.

A converted penalty by Caleb Muntz from way out in the corner would send Fiji to halftime leading 30-5.

Manu Samoa’s lineup against Fiji, 29 July 2023.

Samoa came out for the second half firing on all cylinders and worked their way to the Fijian 22.

Ereatara Enari fed the backs some ball and quick hands from Ah Wong put Tumua Manu in for Samoa’s second of the match and his second career try for Samoa.

Then in rained all of Samoa’s substitutions including local hero, Melani Matavao.

The heightened momentum was evident with the impact of Manu’s substitutes, and this helped Samoa to score their third try.

After Matavao put pressure on a Muntz clearance kick, Samoa earned themselves a scrum within reach of the tryline.

The Samoan forward pack went to work on the Fijian try line until up stepped Captain Fritz Lee with a quick pick-and-go. He crashes over to score for his country in his first match as captain, and cut the Fijian lead down to 33-19.

The Apia Park crowd and Samoa fans across the globe remained hopeful that the Manu could close the gap or even potentially draw the match with 20 minutes to go.

But it proved too little to late and in the end, Samoa let themselves down with handling errors close to the tryline.

With only one other game under their belt, this week’s Manu Samoa starting 15 looked lethargic with non stop mistakes and no clear game plan.

“Manu Samoa have been the architects of their own demise” stated the commentators as Fiji held their lead to defeat Samoa 33-19.

Manu Samoa will get a chance to redeem themselves at Apia Park with next Saturday’s game against Tonga.

Daniel M Limā