The Manu Samoa in their first hit out under Head Coach Mapusua Seilala Mapusua, have lost to the Maori All Blacks 35-10.
Off a lineout the Maoris go into a maul. Samoa take it down but do so illegally. Playing under advantage the Maori All Blacks spin the ball wide before putting a kick through for Shaun Stevenson to score the first try of the match.
Samoa reset after conceding points and finally got some possession of the ball after 15 minutes.
This came after a few carries by Manu Samoa before locks Sam Slade and Ben Nee-Nee combined for a line break down the left edge.
Quick ball by Dwayne Polataivao saw him slice through the Maori defence and put Henry Stowers under the post for Samoa. However the TMO ruled against the try, penalising the Manu for Henry Taefu taking out a Maori All Blacks defender.
The Maoris clear their way out of their own half and Samoa break the defence once again. A few phases later Neria Fomai picks up a loose ball and chips ahead for himself. He found acres of space and caught the Maori All Blacks sleeping to tie the game up at 7-7.
The even score didn’t last long with the Maori All Blacks finding themselves on the front foot once again. A perfectly executed lineout move saw captain Ash Dixon put Alex Nankivel through a yawning hole before the offload to Sean Wainui for the Maori’s second try.
In a blink of an eye another try puts the Maoris ahead to lead 21-7. Shaun Stevenson crosses over for his second try after a set-piece move by the Maori All Blacks backline puts Sean Wainui into the back field. One ruck later they cross kick to Stevenson who strolled over untouched.
Down 21-7 at halftime, Samoa needed to be the first to score points in the second half and that’s exactly what they did.
Building pressure phase after phase, Samoa earned a penalty and cut the deficit down to just 11 points.
Given the pressure the Maori All Blacks were under, they were happy to only give away 3.
A few errors by the men in blue gave the Maori’s prime field position. The men from Aotearoa kept going back to their trusted maul off the line out.
Samoa were valiant in their efforts to sustain the pressure but eventually they cracked when Captain Ash Dixon crossed over to extend the Maori’s lead to 28-10.
With 15 minutes left of the match, Samoa hadn’t touched the ball all second half. The pressure was relentless from the Maori All Blacks. Scrum penalty after scrum penalty, warning after warning, until finally the Samoans broke. Whetu Douglas picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and walked his way onto the try line.
Now down 35-10 Samoa was playing for pride. They finally got their hands on the ball and put together some structure. Samoa sliced through the Maori defence twice. Michael Alaalatoa looked to have scored a consolation try for Samoa but TMO showed he lost control of the ball.
Two more spurs of attack by the men in blue came close but they couldn’t quite finish off.
Samoa and the Maori All Blacks will face off once again next week in Auckland at Mt Smart Stadium.
This will give Samoa prime opportunity to put together more combinations for their main test matches against Tonga.
Manu Samoa will play Tonga twice on July 10th and 17th with the winner on aggregate, qualifying for the 2023 RWC.