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Tongan Impact In Junior Japan Win Over Samoa

Tevita Malaefoou Tatafu was instrumental in Junior Japan beating Samoa A 34-31 in the first match of the World Rugby Pacific Challenge at the ANZ Stadium, Suva yesterday. Tatafu scored
11 Mar 2017 11:47
Tongan Impact In Junior Japan Win Over Samoa
An aria tussle for the ball.Photo:Jone Luvenitoga

Tevita Malaefoou Tatafu was instrumental in Junior Japan beating Samoa A 34-31 in the first match of the World Rugby Pacific Challenge at the ANZ Stadium, Suva yesterday.

Tatafu scored a hat-trick of tries to give Junior Japan the lead throughout leaving the Samoans to play catch up rugby.

Junior Japan coach Satoru Endo said the boys played well and Tatafu’s presence in the squad was crucial.

“The boys really played their hearts out, most of them have matured over the years and have returned to Fiji stronger,” Endo said.

“They stuck to the game plan and held their defence well denying Samoa and capitalising on their mistakes.

“Tevita was a huge impact in the team, he held his ground and really showcased why he deserved a spot in the team.

“He opened the scoring and I think the boys just came together really well and we are happy for this win.

“It is just the first day, we give credit to Samoa for putting up a good fight but this isn’t the end, we still have a lot of work to do and keep up our performance.”

Meanwhile, Samoa captain Patrick Faapale said Samoa need to up their game if they want to stay in the competition.

“It wasn’t the result that we wanted but Junioir Japan did well,” Faapale said.

“We need to work extra hard on defence and make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes.”

 

What happened: Samoa drew first blood with a try from Talaga Alofipo to lead 5-0.

Japan was good in their defence keeping Samoa at bay. Looking for a breakthrough, Japan’s Tatafu scored the first try with a successfully conversion from scrumhalf Naoto Saito to lead 7-5.

Basic handling errors by Japan and discipline cost the Japanese as Samoan captain  Faapale kicked a penalty to close the gap 8-7 but Japan replied with another penalty kick from Saito to extend their lead 10-8. Constant pressure by the Japanese earned them their second try by Tatafu with Saito adding the two points, 17-8.

Struggling to maintain discipline Japan gave away another penalty to Samoa which was happily taken by Faapale, 11-17.

Defence held well for both teams and could only count on the other mistakes.

Japan kicked yet another penalty to further their lead 20-11 while Samoa replied with another.

 

Half time: Samoa A 14-20 Junior Japan.

Japan kicked off the second spell with a try from Koji Iino with Saito making the convrsion, 27-14.

Samoa struggled to break through the Japanese defence but could not keep the ball long enough to make anything happen.

Japan pressured the Samoan side reading their game well turning the ball over denying Samoa possession.

Basic mistakes by Japan in front of their try line worked in Samoa’s favour with Faapale kicking a successful penalty, 27-17.

Tatafu was the star player for the Japan side as he scored a hat-trick from a pick and drive move with Saito adding the two points, 34-17.

In the dying minutes of the game, Samoa’s Kaino Fuataga bulldozed his way to the tryline, two points by Faapale closed the gap, 24-34.

Mikaele Tapili scored another try two minutes later from a pick and drive but it was not enough as Japan won 34-31.

Big play: Powerhouse Kaino Fuataga bulldozed his way through the Japanese defence to score Samoa’s first try in the second half followed by Mikaela Tapili in the dying minutes.

 

Star turn: Japan’s number eight Tatafu was a huge impact for Japan scoring three tries.



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