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Samoa are the champions

Sun, 17 Jun 2012 11:39
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Samoa stormed back from 0-16 down and survived a late onslaught to beat Pacific Nations Cup defending champions Japan 27-26 on Sunday, clinching the trophy for themselves.

Samoa finished the four-team competition with three straight wins, but it was a disastrous tournament for the reigning champions, who lost all three of their games.

Tonga and Fiji are out of contention ahead of next Saturday's dead-rubber.

Fullback Ayumu Goromaru gave Japan a 6-0 lead, scoring two penalties shortly after kick-off, in a taste of things to come in Tokyo.

Right prop Logovii Mulipola's shoulder charge on stand-off Harumichi Tatekawa in the 18th minute handed Japan a one-man advantage, with number eight Hendrik Tui immediately making the Samoans pay.

Tui was on hand following a good run by left winger Hirotoki Onozawa to go over for the first try of the game, giving the hosts an 11-0 lead.

Then flank Takashi Kikutani added another unconverted try in the 26th minute following a succession of quick rucks to lead 16-0.

But Samoa closed the gap within minutes of Mulipola's return, with scrum half Kahn Fotualii going over between the sticks after Samoa opted to kick for the corner. Flyhalf Ki Anufe duly converted it.

Then lock Faatiga Lemalu went over for Samoa's second try with Anufe cashing in on the conversion, giving Japan a 16-14 lead at half-time.

A penalty from Anufe in the 43rd minute put the surging Samoans in the lead for the first time at 17-16.

Some more poor Japanese defence allowed Samoa to penetrate deep and Lemalu powered over for his second try of the day, as Japan wilted badly.

Smelling a Samoa victory, right centre Lolo Lui took over the kicking duties for the visitors. He made no mistake with the conversion as Samoa led 24-16.

Anufe then scored his second penalty to extend the lead to 27-16 in the 65th minute.

To their credit the Japanese, needing a try to stay in the game, nearly closed the gap as a good run by right winger Toshiaki Hirose was stopped just short of the line.

Samoa lost their own line-out and Kikutani finished off with a try in the corner in the 68th minute, but it was too far out for Nicholas Ryan to convert.

Nine minutes later, Hirose made no mistake, the captain finishing after a period of sustained pressure to go over in the corner and put one point between the sides. But Ryan's attempted conversion just drifted wide.

The scorers:

For Japan:
Tries:
Hendrik Tui, Takashi Kikutani 2, Toshiaki Hirose.
Pens: Ayumu Goromaru 2

For Samoa:
Tries:
Kahn Fotualii, Faatiga Lemalu 2
Cons: Ki Anufe 2, Lolo Lui
Pens: Ki Anufe 2

AFP

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