Samoa fight back to clinch Paris title

Date published: May 15 2016

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Samoa won their first Cup of the 2015/16 World Rugby Sevens Series 29-26 with a stunning second-half comeback against Fiji in Paris.

Fiji dominated the opening 10 minutes at a jam-packed Stade Jean Bouin, with tries from Isake Katonibau, Leone Nakarawa and a brace from Jerry Tuwai putting Ben Ryan’s side 21-0 up with half-time looming close. Belgium Tuatagaloa clawed one back for Samoa, with the conversion from Tila Mealoi making it 26-7 to Fiji at the break.

However after a rousing team talk from head coach Damian McGrath, Samoa began to fight back in the second-half, with two tries from Mealoi closing the gap to 26-17 with just over four minutes remaining. Siaosi Asofolau kept the momentum going for Samoa and in the dying seconds captain Faalemiga Selesele finished off the match to give Samoa a historic win.

It was Samoa’s first Cup win since Dubai in 2012 and gives them some serious momentum heading into the Olympic repechage qualifier in Monaco on June 18/19.

“It’s a huge surprise, especially after Fiji were so strong against us yesterday. We wanted to get some pride back and we did that,” said McGrath.

“At half-time I said if we get the first score we can get back into this. Self belief is a huge thing, and they believed in themselves.”

Despite the loss, Fiji have taken a huge step closer to securing the 2015/16 series title, leading the standings by 14 points ahead of South Africa with just one round left in London next weekend.

Hosts France gave the crowds plenty to cheer about across the three days, winning the third place playoff against Argentina, 26-17. Two tries from Virimi Vakatawa, who was named in the Dream Team for Paris, combined with scores from Julien Candelon and Jean Baptiste Mazoue was too much for a spirited Argentina side who looked dangerous all weekend.

Despite a disappointing Cup quarter final loss to Samoa earlier in the day, Neil Powell’s side produced a solid showing against Australia to win 17-7 in the Plate final in Paris.

Dylan Sage put the Blitzbokke ahead early on after some nice link up play with Seabelo Senatla led to an opening try. Boyd Killingworth replied immediately for Australia after latching onto a James Stannard clearance, but South Africa maintained the pressure when Kyle Brown blasted through an attempted tackle from Stannard to put his side up 12-7 at half-time. The only try of the second-half came from speedster Rosko Specman who broke from his own half to race down the right hand touchline and score under the posts, securing his side the win.

Scotland produced a strong team performance against England to win 28-10 and walk away from Paris with their third Bowl of the series. James Johnstone, Scott Wight and Damien Hoyland scored in quick succession to leave a shell shocked England side 21-0 down with half-time approaching. Richard de Carpentier scored England’s only try of the first-half and it wasn’t long into the second-half until Jamie Farndale increased Scotland’s lead to 28-5. After some heated encounters between a few of the players, Charlie Hayter managed to get into this stride down the right wing and score England’s second try of the match before the final whistle.

Portugal won their first Shield of the 2015/16 World Rugby Sevens Series with a 24-19 win over Wales.

It was a second consecutive loss for Wales in a Shield final after being overpowered by Russia in Singapore. Despite Portugal’s strong start in Paris with tries from Nuno Guedes and Pedro Leal, Wales’ Lloyd Lewis was able to claw one score back before half-time. Ethan Davies touched down early on in the second half to make it 14-14, but the try was cancelled out by Duarte Moreira who hit back quickly for Portugal. Luke Morgan went over the whitewash for Wales, making it 19-19 with one minute to go, but Moreira had the final word as he scooted over to make it 24-19.

Results

Cup

Final

Samoa 29-26 Fiji

Third-place

Argentina 17-26 France

Semi-finals

Argentina 12-14 Samoa
France 5-22 Fiji

Quarter-finals

New Zealand 17-19 Argentina
South Africa 10-21 Samoa
France 24-5 Kenya
Fiji 17-15 Australia

Plate

Final

South Africa 17-7 Australia

Semi-finals

New Zealand 19-29 South Africa
Kenya 7-26 Australia

Bowl

Final

England 10-28 Scotland

Semi-finals

Russia 7-19 England
USA 12-14 Scotland

Quarter-finals

Russia 33-0 Canada
England 17-12 Wales
USA 19-17 Portugal
Scotland 34-18 Brazil

Shield

Final

Wales 19-24 Portugal

Semi-finals

Canada 12-17 Wales
Portugal 24-5 Brazil

Standings

1) Fiji – 166 points
2) South Africa – 152
3) New Zealand – 145
4) Australia – 127
5) Argentina – 107
6) USA – 100
7) Kenya – 95
8) Samoa – 84
9) England – 82
10) France – 75
11) Scotland – 65
12) Wales – 46
13) Canada – 35
14) Russia – 26
15) Japan – 21
16) Portugal – 20
17) Brazil – 2
18) Zimbabwe – 1
19) South Korea – 1

With thanks to World Rugby’s official website

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