RWC Sevens qualification hots up in Oceania

(IRB.COM) Saturday 25 August 2012  
 
 RWC Sevens qualification hots up in Oceania
Australia's Luke Morahan scored two tries on day one of the Oceania Sevens

Hosts Australia and defending champions Samoa ended day one of the 2012 Oceania Sevens Championship at the North Sydney Oval unbeaten.

The tournament is doubling up as the latest stage in the qualification process for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow, and whilst Samoa have already booked their place at the tournament in Russia's capital, form suggests Australia will take one of the two remaining spots for Oceania. 

The second place is up for grabs, and American Samoa proved to be the surprise team of the first day with wins over Tonga and Solomon Islands.

For Australia the trio of Matt Lucas, Luke Morahan and captain Ed Jenkins provided the experience and flair and they enjoyed comfortable wins over Solomon Islands (47-0) and American Samoa (22-7) before a 45-0 win against Tonga in the last match of the day.

"Mission accomplished today," said coach Michael O'Connor.

"Our key aim is to secure a place in Moscow and we fielded a squad that over the two days should ensure that happens.

"We played well today and against Tonga in the last match it all clicked. It is all about momentum and that is what we achieved. That said our hardest match was against American Samoa who have surprised a lot of people and did very well to disrupt our breakdown possession and stop our continuity.”

Samoa's team was full of its next generation of young talent and they showed huge promise in a 47-0 win over Tahiti before they blew a 19-0 lead against Cook Islands in their second match as the second half became a thriller.

Surprise packages

The Cook Islands stormed back with four second half tries but a try from Samoa’s Sonny Fereti and a conversion was enough for a narrow 26-24 victory. A comfortable 46-12 win over Papua New Guinea with captain Afa Aiono leading the way secured top spot in Pool  A.

“We started very slowly but built nicely through the day as the team became more confident and we reduced our mistakes," said Sevens World Series regular Aiono. 

"The young players are very excited to be here and keen to do well. We know the second day will get harder but we are ready to step up against teams such as Australia who also played very well today.”

The day’s major upset was caused by new boys American Samoa who beat Tonga. Tries to Pentatuch Vaki and Peter Masoe secured a 14-7 win that delighted coach Fana Fata.

“They underestimated us that is for sure and we showed that we can compete at this level. This is first time we have been eligible to play in a senior IRB event. It is a fantastic result as we wanted to take the chance to impress. It is a big step for Rugby in American Samoa.”

American Samoa may have been beaten by Australia in Pool B in their second match but enjoyed a 34-12 win against the Solomon Islands to finish second ahead of Tonga.

Papua New Guinea showed glimpses of excellence and with Albert Levy Jnr and Henry Liliket leading the way they have plenty of strike power and looked well organised in beating Cook Islands 24-12 and Tahiti 64-0.

"We knew the last match against Samoa was going to be much harder and it was disappointing that we let them get a good lead from which we never recovered," said PNG coach Warren Jennings.

“We talked about the physicality and unfortunately did not match Samoa in that department. Still we finished second in the pool and are confident we can qualify for next year’s RWC Sevens finals with good performances on the second day.”

Oceania Sevens Championship 2012 day one results:
Papua New Guinea 24-12 Cook Islands
Samoa 47-0 Tahiti
Tonga 7-14 American Samoa
Australia 47-0 Solomon Islands
Papua New Guinea 64-0 Tahiti 
Samoa 26-24 Cook Islands
Tonga 33-7 Solomon Islands
Australia 22-7 American Samoa
Cook Islands 66-0 Tahiti
Samoa 46-12 Papua New Guinea
American Samoa 34-12 Solomon Islands
Australia 45-0 Tonga

The action on day two will be streamed live and free at www.ethnicmedia360.com/Events/RUGBY/FORU/OceaniaSevens2012.aspx

Day two fixtures:
13. 11:00 - Samoa v Solomon Islands
14. 11:22 - Papua New Guinea v Tonga
15. 11:44 - Cook Islands v American Samoa
16. 12:06 - Tahiti v Australia
17. 12:37 - Loser Match 13 v Loser Match 15 
18. 12:59 - Loser Match 14 v Loser Match 16 
19. 13:21 - Winner Match 13 v Winner Match 15 
20. 13:43 - Winner Match 14 v Winner Match 16 
21. 14:14 - 7th v 8th playoff – Loser Match 17 v Loser Match 18
22. 14:36 - 5th v 6th playoff – Winner Match 17 v Winner Match 18
23. 14:58 - 3rd v 4th playoff – Loser Match 19 v Loser Match 20 
24. 15:20 - Final – Winner Match 19 v Winner Match 20