New Players Impress
he newly revamped Vodafone Fijian 7s team exceeded the expectations of acting coach Nacanieli Cawanibuka. This was after the side edged Manu Samoa 28-19 to win the Oceania 7s Championship at the ANZ Stadium in Suva last night. Cawanibuka said they played a resilient and tough Samoan side but new inclusions in the side lived up to expectations during the two days. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, Samoa did not make it easy but the new boys in the squad really exceeded my expectations,” Cawanibuka said. “But we will take this win and recover, review the game and start again on Monday. “Winning has boosted the team’s momentum for the World Sevens Series next month.” Samoa’s Gordon Langkilde scored the first try for the visitors but Kalione Nasoko scored two tries with the last one by Joeli Lutumailagi to give Fiji a 21-5 lead at halftime. Samoa stepped up in the second spell with a try to Samoa Toloa and Malu Falaniko to close the gap but Fiji held their defence and kept their patience as Rusiate Tadulala and Kitione Taliga’s tries sealed the deal for the home side, Taliga added eight points from his boot to give the final score 28-19. Manu Samoa coach Stephen Betham said due to lack of experience by majority of their players, they could not finish properly. “It was a great final, we had our chances towards the end but we didn’t take them and I think that is all due to inexperience. “We only have three senior players in the team and the rest are new,” Betham said. “This tournament has been good for the new boys, now we know where they are and what we need to work on and we will start on Monday to prepare for Dubai.
“A few of the boys have lifted their hands so it has been a good tournament for us as a whole.” With the presence of sevens legend Sir Gordon Tietjens at the side of the Samoan team, Betham says it is the players and what they do that counts the most. “Tietjens has been a wonderful help but you know it all comes down to the players and we are very proud of the way they played,” he said.
“Hats off to Fiji, they are the Olympic champions and if there is anyone you want to measure yourself to, it is definitely Fiji. “I think the boys know that it will not be an easy task in the World Sevens Series as we have a lot to work on.”