9 Jun 2014

Sport: Manu Samoa left with plenty to work on

1:15 pm on 9 June 2014

Samoa assistant coach Tom Coventry says there is plenty of room for improvement ahead of this weekend's home test against Italy.

The Manu were held to a surprise 18-all draw in their opening Pacific Nations Cup clash against Tonga on Saturday.

The 'Ikale Tahi led 12-5 at halftime and it wasn't until the 65th minute that Samoa hit the front, when skipper David Lemi finished off an attack on the left flank.

But the Manu conceded a penalty goal in stoppage time and were forced to settle for a share of the points.

Tom Coventry says the heat and pitch conditions at Apia Park were challenging for both teams, who were very rusty in their first hit-out of 2014.

"You've got the Tongans and the Samoans playing in their home country and you think that they'd be acclimatised to it but if you look through the teams that ran onto the field they're all professionally based Northern Hemisphere players, so we all suffered equally as badly as each other. These boys are in their off-seasons - that brings a different challenge too to the coaching staff - but being here a week and training together obviously the combinations are going to improve. Both teams will be better for the game but I know the public in Samoa will be looking for a better performance from us that's for sure".

Tom Coventry says Samoa are expecting another tough battle up front against the Italians this weekend, a team the Manu beat last year during their tour of South Africa.