Manu Samoa left to rue untimely injuries

Manu Samoa came up short against Georgia. Photo: Facebook/Georgian Rugby

APIA, 20 NOVEMBER 2018 (RNZ PACIFIC) – Injuries and concussion conspired to thwart the Manu Samoa rugby team’s hopes of a first victory in Georgia.

The tourists led 19-3 just before the interval in Tbilisi, following tries from Filo Paulo, JJ Taulagi and Ahsee Tuala, but failed to scored in the second spell as the Lelos fought back to win 27-19.

Manu Samoa came up short against Georgia.

Coach Steve Jackson said the Manu executed the gameplan perfectly in the first half but after dominating the Georgians at set-pieces, the game turned when Samoa’s starting front row were all forced from the field.

“Rugby’s a funny thing and momentum swings in different ways,” said Jackson.

“Look, I couldn’t have been more happy with the first-half effort. The game-plan was executed perfectly, players were in positions as they wanted to do, our kicking game was great and we controlled the ball really well and we were well deserved to go in 19-10 (although) we let in a soft try just before half-time.”

“…going into half-time we were really confident. We knew Georgia were going to come out firing and we expected that. Unfortunately we lost Motu (Matu’u) and Paul (Alo-Emile), who were doing so well in the front row in the first half, to concussion,” said Jackson.

“They got their Head Injury Assessments and they weren’t able to come out at half-time and Logovi’i (Mulipola), our other prop, he started to cramp up in his calves and he’d had those problems all week.

“So we pretty much lost out front row that had been dominating in the first half and the Georgians managed to build some momentum off their set-piece in the end.”

Despite coming up short, Steve Jackson believed Samoa showed significant improvement from their opening tour loss against the United States.

“We had trained all week to say that a lot of teams respect Georgia for what they do up front and we wanted to dominate there and for the first 40 minutes we did,” he said.

“I’m really happy with the growth of some of these players and obviously some guys getting game-time and we’ve blooded some new players in these last couple of games but ultimately it all comes down to you’ve got to win – that’s the whole reason why we play the game,” lamented the former Blues assistant coach.

“The boys were extremely disappointed in the changing rooms and now it’s about trying to keep your heads up, take the learnings from that second half against Georgia as we did against the USA.”

Meanwhile in other Pacific results, Fiji thumped Uruguay 68-7 while Tonga were crushed 74-24 in Wales, having levelled the scores at 24-all shortly after half-time.

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