6 Feb 2018

Sport: Samoa 7s take heart from Hamilton

1:11 pm on 6 February 2018

Samoa sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens believes his team is on the up after what he labelled their "best performance of the season" in Hamilton at the weekend.

The Manu Sevens bounced back from a first up loss to Kenya, beating the USA and Canada to make the Cup quarter finals for only the second time this season.

After losing at the death to Fiji they edged England 22-17 in extra-time before gaining revenge on Kenya 19-15 in the playoff for fifth place.

Samoa's Laaloi Leilua scores the match winning try over England.

Samoa's Laaloi Leilua scores the match winning try over England. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Sir Gordon said it was Samoa's best performance in a long time.

"It was just really gutsy really. We had a few injuries as well and a lot of these players playing under that sort of pressure and those sort of crowds is pretty new to some of them," he said.

"Of course when I think about it, I've lost six frontline players - I lost three last weekend (in Sydney).

"It is tough but you can never take away the experience they gained over the weekend and of course it it will only make them better players and, for me, it's adding depth to Samoan sevens rugby.

Samoa coach Gordon Tietjens talks tactics.

Samoa coach Gordon Tietjens talks tactics. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"To be able to build some more depth because this game unfortunately is all about injuries now and the bodies take a battering.

"Of course you've got to have people that can step up and play at that level and this weekend was great for that to give some new players an opportunity to express themselves in a Samoan sevens jersey."

The Manu climbed two spots to ninth in the World Series standings after four rounds and Sir Gordon said the players will approach the next tournament in Las Vegas in March with renewed confidence.

"They've gained a lot of self-belief in being able to compete with the best which was really really pleasing," reflected the veteran sevens mentor.

"To really push Fiji to [be] leading with about seven seconds to go and lose it at the death and then to back that up with a really good performance against England and to finish it off with one against Kenya just made it for a great weekend."

Samoa's Tofatu Solia challenges the Kenyan defence.

Samoa's Tofatu Solia challenges the Kenyan defence. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"I like the short turnarounds because we can still get into some more work and it's a massive year this year for sevens rugby - mainly due to Commonwealth Games later on and a Rugby World Cup [Sevens] in July as well.

"We've just got to keep getting better and stronger and I've just identified the pool that we're in (in Las Vegas) and it's going to be another toughie.

"I see that we're drawing USA and Australia and of course Spain so no easy games in the World Series now so we've got to have a few days off and then back into our work."

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