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Counties Cavaliers defeat Samoa in Under 20s friendly

Richard Spranger

allblacks.com     22 May 2014     Richard Spranger

The home team had a 22-12 win but Samoan coach Semo Sititi was thankful for the opportunity to get some playing time together for his side.

Sititi fielded two different teams in each half and said he was very happy with the showing.

It was a loss on the scoreboard, he said, but he was more interested in the performance," he said.

With only four players from Samoa, three from Australia and the rest from within New Zealand, he was also attempting to build the culture in the side. In previous tournaments there had been issues between the Samoan-based players and those from Australia and New Zealand but he was working to avoid that this time around.

"I'm quite happy with the atmosphere and where we are at.

"There are some things we need to tidy up defensive-wise and in attack we need to get our execution right," he said.

"Our reaction wasn't there, our throwing wasn't there, our options weren't there.

We don't want to show all our options but we have got something to work on," he said.

Being able to compete in the tournament, in close to home conditions was an advantage for the side and it was now a case of the players putting good performances together. They will play the Blues Under-21s on Monday in their final warm-up game.

Players who did make an impact in the game included wing Joseph Ikenasio who is in the Chiefs development squad, mid-field players Nathaniel Apa and William Talataina Mu and lock Jotham Wrampling, who plays for Parramatta in Sydney.

Counties Manukau coach and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga was interested in proceedings, as six players from the region were included in the Samoan side.

Umaga was delighted to be able to give his side an early test against some good opposition.

"Hopefully we gave Samoa what they needed in the run-up to what is a pretty important competition for them as well," he said.

Umaga said it was good to see some local boys in the Samoan team and it reflected well on the pathway through the Counties Manukau union.

"The tournament is another form of exposure for these players and on an international stage. A lot of these guys have been working pretty hard in the background and playing club rugby, and come up through our system and they have got a great opportunity now to show their wares and represent not just their country but also our union.