In a thrilling display of skill and determination, a young Manu Samoa 7s team of 10 debutants fought tough battles at the 2023 Pacific Games, securing a well-deserved silver medal after going down to Fiji in a close 19-5 final.
All players except Captain Fui Faafouina and and Vice Captain Uaina Sione were putting on the blue jersey for the first time at the Pacific Games.
In the semifinals against arch-rivals Tonga, the Manu Samoa 7s delivered a stellar performance, triumphing with a decisive 24-12 victory. However, the ultimate challenge awaited them in the form of the mighty Flying Fijian team, a powerhouse in Pacific rugby.
Undeterred, the young Manu Samoa 7s fought valiantly in the finals. Decision making errors and a tendency to play individually cost them the match.
The Manu also struggled in the ruck area with Fiji winning too many turnover balls.
Despite the defeat, the Samoan team showcased huge potential in up-and-coming players such as Tom Maiava of Salailua and Sinamoga who plays his rugby with Marist St Joseph’s. Maiava was the talk of the Pacific Games tournament with his dangerous ability to create space, scoring tries in every Manu Samoa match of the tournament.
The silver medal may not have been the ultimate goal for Coach Afa Aiono and Team Manager Fuimaono Soi Lalovi Lome but Samoa will no doubt benefit in the long run with the extended squad members displaying tenacity and the ability to rise to the occasion against formidable opponents.
As the team returns home, Manu Samoa 7s Head Coach Muliagatele Brian Lima and Assistant Coach Tausa Faamaoni Lalomilo are heading to Dubai for the first round of an amended HSBC 7s tournament.