02 July 2020. With the Taula All Star rugby competition now extended to 2 rounds, the Taula South combination of Vaiala and Magiagi are taking it one week at a time as they prepare to face off the other undefeated side of the tournament this weekend.
Taula South and the Faleata Taula West side of Moamoa, Vaimoso and Alamagoto remain undefeated after the first two weeks.
The Chris Faaofo coached Taula Souths secured a comfortable 31-16 win over East in Week 1, and then almost let a 26-12 halftime lead go to waste when Norths dominated the second half of last weekend’s Round 2 match.
Vaiala Manager Maka Sapolu who co-manages the side with Sharay Aiafi of Magiagi agreed that their boys relaxed in the second half.
“Much respect to the Norths for that performance, they put up a good fight and yes, our boys dragged a bit. But that’s us, we learn and we move on”.
“But we never take any team for granted,” added Sapolu.
Souths came away with a narrow 34-30 win over a determined Norths and this week, spirits remain high in the lead up to this Saturday’s game against Faleata Taula West.
Originally planned as a single round comp over 4 weeks, the All Star rugby tournament has now been extended to 7 weeks, allowing a second round of matches before a grand final between the 1st and 2nd placed teams on the table.
Souths Technical Advisor and former Head Coach for the Manu Samoa 7s and 15s Masoe Stephen Betham says the focus of this weekend’s game is to remain on top of the table at the half-way mark of the competition.
“So yes it’s a crucial game for us”.
Asked what the impacts are of the competition extension, Masoe says it’s now about managing the player pool given the extra games.
“The extended comp will allow us to look at a broader pool of players; so far we’ve been selecting from a core group of 25 players to get the win, but there are close to 40 players here in the squad;
“The second round will allow us to broaden the selection and be able to give more game time to players,” says Masoe.
Manager Sapolu says the fight for positions has been good in terms of lifting player discipline and commitment to training.
“When we select the team, we find that the very next week, those who have not been selected are twice as committed and hungry to compete for a spot on the starting XV”, says Sapolu.
Asked for players to look out for, Masoe Stephen Betham said Souths is about the whole team, but Magiagi wing Dennis Maresa is a low-key quiet achiever who has rarely been mentioned despite being a part of the winning Eels squad in the last 3 Super 9 finals.
Video: Dennis Maresa scored a try off a Malu Falaniko pass.
The Souths is a steady mix of veterans, many of whom have had Super 9 experience, with a handful who were also part of the Manuma national training squad.
Masoe Stephen Betham added that the Taula South combination of Magiagi and Vaiala is a whole of team effort.
“There aren’t really any stand-outs in this side, besides the guys who’ve been in the system for a while now like Patrick Faapale, Malu Falaniko,..but this is a whole of team approach”, said Masoe.
Assistant Coach Rudy Leavasa was running the plays when SGN visited the NUS field to catch the team’s Thursday afternoon training. The side looked sharp, with lots of options in the backline for coaches to choose from.
Double international and boxing gold medalist Hugo Fata looked to have pulled a hamstring during one of the plays.
Chris Faaofo is the Head Coach of Magiagi and the Eels Under 20s Head Coach with two back to back Super 9 U20s championships under his belt. Rev Too Savaili is a former Magiagi player who now serves as a EFKS Faifeau Samoa (FS) in Tafagamanu, Lefaga.
The final squad for Souths was not named at the Thursday afternoon session. Team Manager Maka Sapolu said they would be naming the final squad for this Saturday’s clash, on Friday afternoon.
Taula South Management
Head Coach: Vaimasenuu Chris Faaofo
Asst Coach: Laauli Rudy Leavasa
T.Advisors: Masoe Stephen Betham and Rev Too Savaili
Managers: Sharay Aiafi and Maka Sapolu
This is SGN’s Staff #FunPick #Starters for Taula Souths 🙂🙃
1 Siliva Tapu
2 Jenny Taateo
3 Noel Sanft
4 Tavita Sanele
5 Koroseta Veni
6 Joseph Faaleafaga
7 Lester Sefo
8 Tulele Masoe
9 Pupi Ah See
10 Patrick Faapale
11 Dennis Maresa
12 Fepai Taavili
13 Fautua Otto
15 Malu Falaniko
Siu Fanolua, Wesley Patu, David Tavita, Hugo Fata