Samoa win first ever PNC in dramatic finale

(IRB.COM) Sunday 27 June 2010
 
 Samoa win first ever PNC in dramatic finale
Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger receives the PNC trophy - Photo: Oceaniarugby.com

Hosts Samoa defeated Fiji 31-9 in the final ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2010 match to win their first ever PNC trophy in a dramatic finale.

Having already won the IRB Sevens World Series this year, the PNC triumph is another feather in the cap of Samoan rugby, and it was IRB Sevens Player of the Year nominee Alafoti Fa'osiliva who stole the show late on at Apia Park.

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Having lost 31-23 to Japan last week, Samoa needed a try scoring bonus point and a winning margin of more than 13 points to win the PNC for the first time and scored their first try of the afternoon when lock Joe Tekori scored in the 16th minute.

Lolo Lui added the conversion, and the crowd erupted when Mikaele Pesamino demonstrated why he was named IRB Sevens Player of the Year in the 22nd minute, chipping over the Fijian defence before showing great speed to collect and score.

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Fiji were also looking for their first ever PNC title and hit back with three Taniela Rawaqa penalties, one before and two after half time, to cut the deficit to 14-9 and with just 15 minutes left to play, despite traling by five points, Fiji looked to be on their way to the title as Samoa needed to score two more tries.

But Alafoti Fa'osiliva was brought on by Fuimaono Tafua and had an immediat impact scoring two tries in the space of three minutes spurred on by the home crowd.

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Fa'osiliva's first came from a Samoan scrum on the Fiji try line as he picked up the ball from the base and powered across the line. Lui missed the conversion but was on hand to convert Fa'osiliva's second.

Census Johnston's determination paid off in the build up after he chased Lui's clearance kick from the Fiji restart and was on hand to pounce on a Fijian fumble.

The prop kicked ahead and F'osiliva showed incredible speed and composure to also kick the ball closer to the try line, before collecting and scoring Samoa's fourth try to the delight of the crowd at Apia Park.

Any hopes Fiji had of a comeback were dashed when they lost Rupeni Nasiga to the sin bin, however, before David Lemi and Uale Mai combined to secure the 31-9 victory for the hosts, with the latter crossing and Lui adding the conversion.

Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger:

"This win was for the people of Samoa.We came into the game with no pressure but just to give our best shot and prove our worth to the people of Samoa."

Samoa coach Fuimaono Titimaea:

"This is exactly what we wanted and I'm so proud of the boys' performance as they followed the plan we set for the match. The players just did all the right things."