London 7s: Samoa Secure 28-21 Win Over France


France scored the first try of the match through their leading try scorer Aaron Grandidier-Nkanang.

Mr Grandidier-Nkanang hit the Samoan defence with a 360-degree spin to cut through and score a scintillating try.

The French kick-off was taken clean by Neueli Leitufia, and in three passes the ball found Samoa’s own top try scorer – Va’afauese Apelu-Maliko.

Maliko combined power and strength with a dummy pass to beat not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 French defenders to score what has to go down as one of the best individual tries of the season.

The match was tied at 7-7 with 3 minutes left in the first half but that didn’t last long.

Samoa won their own kick-off and instantly found a rampaging Vaovasa Afa Su’a who sliced straight through the French defense to score Samoa’s second to extend their lead to 14-7.

A 7-point Samoa lead was extended to 14 through a well worked team try finished off by the ever-reliable Motu Opetai.

The message from Brian Lima at halftime was they needed to score first however that was not the case.

France, after being pinned in their own half for 2 minutes, took advantage of possession and went the length of the field to narrow the lead back down to 7.

Neueli Leitufia went into the air and came down with the French kickoff. The ball went into the hands of debutant Elijah Niko who slipped a classy pass to put Melani Matavao into acres of space.

The ball was recycled and spread wide to Motu Opetai who combined with Taunu’u Niulevaea to take Samoa to the try line.

With Apelu-Maliko in support play, Niulevaea unselfishly gave the try away to register a second try for his Co-Captain and bring Apelu-Maliko’s season total to 41, just two now behind leading try scorer Marcos Moneta.

Samoa thought that a 28-14 lead would be enough and relaxed in the last minute of the match.

However in that minute France scored a try and closed their deficit to 28-21. The French needed to win the kickoff and they did just that.

The brave French side gave it their all in their last attack but their hopes of scoring vanished when Paul Eti-Slater  put in some good work in the breakdown to win Samoa a game winning penalty.

Off the penalty, there was a bit of a scare when the ball Apelu-Maliko tried to kick into touch was charged down by France.

Samoa kept their cool and secured a 28-21 win in their first pool match in London.

Up next: Samoa vs Australia at 12:47am.


Daniel M Limā