12 Nov 2018

Sport: Decision making proves costly for Manu Samoa

2:59 pm on 12 November 2018

Manu Samoa rugby coach Steve Jackson says bad decision making under pressure proved costly in their last gasp loss to the United States at the weekend.

The Manu trailed 15-0 early in San Sebastian but rallied to lead 21-20 at half-time.

Leading 29-27 with a minute to go Samoa conceded a penalty and first five Will Hooley converted from a difficult angle to secure a dramatic 30-29 win - the first for the USA in six tests against their men in blue.

Steve Jackson said his players were sound defensively and created more opportunities with the ball in hand but execution and decision making let them down.

"I want my players to play with instinct, there's no doubt about that, but messages go down to tell our boys to hold on to the ball...but unfortunately a couple of times we decided to kick and it didn't come off and decision around when to pass and when to hold on to the ball," said Jackson, who was making his international coaching debut.

"I think we tried to offload a couple of times and we lost the ball and then obviously those intercept passes killed us when they scored off the back of that.

"I think they really only created one opportunity for themselves to score a try, and that was in the first period when they scored from a pick and go from the ruck, and then a lot of the other times we gifted them their points. I think they're things we can fix."

The new Blues forwards coach Steve Jackson.

Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Steve Jackson said the Manu squad prepared well during the week and will be better against Georgia this weekend with a match under their belt.

"We just needed to hold on the ball and two penalties later we lose the game so from that point of view (I'm) extremely disappointed," he said.

"But even the way that we started - we were a bit cold and obviously first game jitters - and to go down 15-0 after the first period the floodgates could have opened but the boys did extremely well to come back and lead at halftime."

"I thought that once we got hold of the ball and held onto it for multiple phases we knew we could open them up so really pleased in those areas," Jackson said.

"I think our scrum went extremely well as well but it's just the decisions at times what we did - we were kicking when we probably shouldn't have kicked.

"There was two times when the ball went dead - if we had held onto the ball and just built some phases and really stressed the defence we probably could have come away with some points there."

New Blood

Steve Jackson was full of praise for Bay of Plenty lock Kane Leaupepe, who made his test debut in the second row.

The 25 year wasn't originally named in Samoa's Northern Tour squad but was called up as an injury replacement and quickly caught the eye.

"He's been extremely impressive since he's been in camp and that's the reason why he deserved to start," Jackson said.

"All the coaching staff and the management group have been impressed with him - he's very physical, mobile and great in the air and he showed that last night and I'm sure that he'll go on to other things once we finish this tour and there will be a lot of people that would have taken notice of this guy."

Bay of Plenty lock Kane Leaupepe will make his test debut for Manu Samoa against the USA.

Kane Leaupepe impressed on test debut for Manu Samoa. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Hooker Ray Niuia, lock Ben Nee-Nee and loose forward Iakopo Mapu also made their test debut off the bench while veteran flanker Jack Lam captained his country for the first time.

"I asked him to take the captain's armband and he did a fantastic job, not only on the field but even everything he does off the field as well," said Jackson.

"He commands his position as a captain just by the way that he plays and he showed that again last night - just non-stop, leading by example and when he talks players listen."

Jack Lam.

Jack Lam captained Samoa for the first time against the USA. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Fiji also made a losing start to their November tour, thrashed 54-17 by Scotland, while Tonga outscored a French Barbarians team 49-38.