Samoa Juniors off to winning start

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 26 August 2009
 
 Samoa Juniors off to winning start
Samoa on the attack against Fiji in the opening match in Apia - Photo: Oceaniarugby.com

Hosts Samoa enjoyed a winning start in the 2009 Oceania Under 19 Championship, beating staunch rivals Fiji 34-22 in the opening match of the competition in Apia.

The Samoans were dominant early on and raced to a 21-6 half time lead. Fiji captain Noa Naikataci then slotted four penalties and converted Virimi Vakatawa's try for a one-point lead, before the home team upped its level again to score two more tries and clinch victory.

Samoa finished seventh in this year's IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship in Japan - compared with Fiji in 12th place and Tonga's 10th place finish - but much is expected of Fijian captain Naikataci, who is one of the few players still young enough to turn out for the side.

"It was disappointing to lose like this, especially when we had anticipated a good start to this tournament," said Fiji team manager Viliame Kana-tabua.

"I believe the boys will need a good rest before we regroup for our next outing.

"We had about two weeks in camp and I believe this is very short time for our coaching staff to do a lot of work," he added.

"I'm not saying this as an excuse for our losing this match, but better preparations from the Samoans, who were in camp for about one month, was evident in their performance.

"We are happy with what they've achieved today but we're going to have to lift our performance if we want to win our next match."

The Fijians next line up against Tonga on 28 August, while Samoa take on Papua New Guinea.

Fiji, Samoa and Tonga will most likely contest the main trophy in the tournament, while PNG and Vanuatu will be vying to clinch the region's one representative berth at next year's IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe won Africa's Under 19 event to secure a first appearance in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, for which the Host Union and dates will be confirmed in due course.

Full match schedule

24 Aug 2009
3:00pm - Fiji 22-34 Samoa

28 Aug 2009
2:00pm - Samoa v Papua New Guinea
4:00pm - Tonga v Fiji

31 Aug 2009
2:00pm - Fiji v Vanuatu
4:00pm - Tonga v Samoa

4 Sep 2009
2:00pm - Papua New Guinea  v Vanuatu
4:00pm - Cup Final

* All matches to be played at Apia Park, Samoa
** All match times Samoa local time (BST -12 hrs)

For more details go to Oceaniarugby.com