5 August 2023 Apia Park, Samoa. Manu Samoa put up a great performance to secure a 34-9 thrashing of Tonga infront of their home crowd at Apia Park.
The match started with each team trading errors. Tonga capitalised on Samoa’s errors and took an early 3-0 lead.
Samoa scored the first try through the power of Sama Malolo.
After a D’Angelo Leuila chip ‘n chase put Samoa in prime field position, the forward pack went to work on the Tongan try line.
Eventually, Malolo found himself in possession of the ball and with a strong carry, powered himself over for Samoa’s first try.
Leuila would add a penalty for Samoa to extend Samoa’s lead to 10-3.
As halftime approached, Samoa had their opportunities to extend their lead but just couldn’t make it count on the try line.
Tonga however, would kick 2 penalties to cut Samoa’s lead to 10-9.
Leuila would answer with a penalty kick of his own just prior to halftime to gift his side a 13-9 lead at the break.
The second half started as a chess match with both sides trying to outsmart each other until finally the Manu would score the first try of the second half.
Poor discipline by Tonga meant Samoa would kick for the corner and set up a driving maul.
The Manu’s entire pack went into this maul with everyone but the halfback joining in for a walk-over second try.
As the pile of men stood to their feet, local hero Miracle Fai’ilagi emerged as the try scorer.
From here Samoa became relentless.
Moamoa Rooster’s very own Theodore Mcfarland would slice through the Tongan defence and put Samoa on the attack.
The forwards would give it their all with pick and go’s before handing the try to the backs.
D’Angelo Leuila would feed his backs and a quick tap by Christian Leali’ifano put Duncan Paia’aua in for Samoa’s third try.
Paiaaua’s family who were the first supporters to arrive at the field – four hours before kick-off – got their reward.
That wouldn’t be the end for Samoa. The roof at Apia Park would soon be ripped right off when hometown hero and Manu Samoa 7s captain, Melani Matavao pulled off a quick tap run away try.
Tonga had been pinged for not rolling away and Matavao caught everyone napping as he tapped the ball and zipped down the right hand touch line.
With a massive swan dive to finish off his brilliance, Matavao would send Apia Park into a frenzy.
Samoa had their chances in the dying minutes to extend their lead, but again just could not finish their opportunities right at the try line.
The Manu’s 34 points came by crossing over for four tries to Malolo, Fai’ilagi, Paia’aua and Matavao – all converted off the left boot of Alai D’Angelo Leuila plus two penalties also by Leuila.
The Ikale Tahi were left tryless at Apia Park, with their only 9 points from three first half penalties.
Despite the hard tackles and expected physical game between the two Pacific rivals, the camaraderie was seen restored at the end of the match as both teams took a knee to pray together.
The Manu Samoa will face England, Argentina, Japan and Chile at the Rugby World Cup in France.