2009 Pacific Nations: Junior All Blacks and Samoa win
James Mortimer - allblacks.com 19 Jun 2009
With a formidable line up, the two times Pacific Nations champions scored seven tries to lead 24-7 at half time, and then keeping up the pressure to run away 28 point victors.
2008 All Black Hosea Gear scored three tries in an impressive display, while Tom Donnely, Rene Ranger, Tamati Ellison and Anthony Tuitavake also scored tries to have coaches Colin Cooper and Ian Foster’s apparent blend of high octane Hurricane and Chiefs rugby looking too good for the valiant Pacific Island teams.
Now with Tonga and Japan to play, the Junior All Blacks look to be in the box seat for a fourth straight New Zealand title.
But equally, while it benefits New Zealand to have their second tier players competing at international level as a feeder side for the national test team, the value of having the Pacific Island nations and Japan playing against a near test class side is worth its weight in gold for their continued development.
At Lawaqa Park, Samoa overran Japan despite the Asian champions looking like they might record a tremendous upset against the more physical Island team.
Japan led 15-12 midway through the second half, despite trailing 12-3 at halftime, but the power and aggression of the Samoan team, the hallmarks that caused the Junior All Blacks problems in their match, overran the smaller Japanese team.
It was Japan’s first match of the tournament.
Samoa’s first half tries were scored off physical dominance, with referee Nathan Pearce awarding Samoa a penalty try in the opening quarter after Japan were penalised as Manu Samoa looked to score from a shove in the scrum.
Minutes from half time, Samoa impressively drove off a tremendous maul; with giant prop Justin Va’a emerging from the blue mass to score.
However, Japan scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the second half, through full back Jack Tarrant and winger Hirotoki Onozawa to see the outsiders look to pull of the shock of 2009.
But Samoan winger Sailosi Tagicakibau powered through what seemed like half the Japanese team to score a try, and from there Samoa scored another three five pointers to lay the Japanese challenge to rest.
Results: 18 June, Round two of the 2009 IRB Pacific Nations Cup
Junior All Blacks 45 defeat Fiji 17
Samoa 34 defeat Japan 15
Remaining New Zealand fixtures
23rd June: Junior All Blacks V Japan @ Lautoka
2nd July: Junior All Blacks V Tonga @ Suva