Samoans strike it rich in Vegas
February 15, 2010
Samoa were the biggest winners in Las Vegas on Sunday © Getty Images
An on-fire Samoa side downed New Zealand to claim the Las Vegas title of the IRB Sevens World Series with a dominant 33-12 win on Sunday.
Struggling with the absence of three key players, the New Zealanders couldn't fight off their Samoan hex this season, having lost all three games against them including last weekend's semi-final in Wellington.
New Zealand once again struggled with the physical, swarming nature of Samoa's defence. They trailed 7-14 at half time but never looked like stopping a team who possessed the tournament's two best players in Mikaele Pesamino and Alafoti Fa'osiliva.
Both scored two tries in the final - Pesamino's trademark intercept on the stroke of half time breaking New Zealand hearts and helping lift his tournament tally to 11 tries - while the other went to Reupena Levasa. New Zealand crossed in the first half through Kurt Baker and in the second via Tim Mikkelson but they looked an ineffective attacking unit without speedy winger Sherwin Stowers.
Victorious in the first two tournaments of the year in Dubai and South Africa, New Zealand still hold a handy lead at the halfway point of the series on 84 points, with Samoa clambering to second on 70 past Fiji on 68.
In the semi-finals, New Zealand were too strong for a Kenyan side who started brightly through a try to Victor Odour but couldn't prevent Zar Lawrence responding before the break and Baker and Lote Raikabula sealing the result after half time. Kenya had earlier eliminated England in the quarter-finals with a try in sudden death, while the Kiwis had seen off the challenge of reigning series champions South Africa.
Australia drew plenty of plaudits with their battling display on day two as they defeated Wellington champions Fiji 28-7 in the quarters before narrowly losing out to the eventual champions, who had disposed of Wales 17-10 in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, host nation United States pleased the home fans by claiming the third-tier Bowl trophy with a 28-17 triumph over France in the Bowl final, effectively placing them ninth out of the 16 competing nations. Earlier they beat Guyana and Argentina to make it three from three in Sunday's fixtures.
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery
"England remind me of a PlayStation rugby team," John Mitchell on tactics and the search for a first-choice fly-half ahead of the World Cup
Augustine Pulu will return home with little more than 20 minutes rugby in one month on tour. It is time for more midweek games writes Craig Dowd
Samoa's Sivi Tau says the team "come completely prepared", the reality is a world away. Seilala Mapusua on Samoa and building a future