Sopoaga helps Manu Samoa to win, Flying Fijians beaten by France

Steven Luatua breaks through the Barbarians’ defence (Photo: Manu Samoa/Facebook)

Lima Sopoaga made a strong debut for Manu Samoa, helping the side to a 28-14 win over the Barbarians in Brive, France at the weekend.

The match were among pre-Rugby World Cup warm up matches across Europe at the weekend.

Selected at flyhalf for Manu Samoa, ex-All Black Sopoaga showed glimpses of his old self, kicking two penalties and a conversion for a personal tally of seven points in the game.

He was not in the Manu Samoa squad for the July test series, the Pacific Nations Cup, but head coach Seilala Mapusua named him in the World Cup squad.

Sopoaga did not disappoint as he commanded the Samoans’ attacks and varied their options with place kicks and territorial searchers in the 60 minutes he was on the field.

Manu Samoa scored three tries to the Barbarians’ two, with Alamanda Motuga, Tumua Manu and replacement halfback Ereatara Enari getting on the try-scoring sheet.

Christian Leali’ifano, who replaced Sopoaga in the second spell, kicked a penalty.

The Barbarians scored tries through captain Jean-Luc du Preez and winger Henry Speight.

The game featured five Samoans in the Barbarians’ outfit, four of them who were part of Mapusua’s squad leading up to the announcement of the Manu Samoa squad for the World Cup – Tim Nanai-Williams, Jack Lam, Aki Seiuli, Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen and Joe Tekori.

The side will now prepare to meet Ireland in their last pre-Rugby World Cup match this week.

Former New Zealand sevens rep Ben Lam, who also made his debut for Samoa, left the field with a suspected knee injury but was seen walking around later.

Mapusua said the match was a good test.

“In terms of the game this week against the Barbarians, it gave us an opportunity to have a closer look at our combinations and also test our game plan against an opposition”, he said.

He expects to name another full-strength lineup againt the Irish, who are the number one team in the world.

Meanwhile, the Flying Fijians went down 34-17 to France in their Rugby World Cup warm-up test match in Nantes Sunday.

The host mounted pressure from the beginning and took early control of the game. Les Bleus opened up a 16-3 advantage through Peato Mauvaka’s try and three Melvyn Jaminet penalties.

Caleb Muntz got the first three points for Fiji before Tevita Ikanivere scored a try to close the gap on the scoreboard. Muntz successfully added two extra points. Uini Atonio scored a try in the 39th minute as France rested with a lead of 21-10 lead at the breather.

Flying Fijians tried to fight back and gain some points on the scoreboard. With replacement coming into the field of play in the second spell added more firepower to our attack. With the help of the forwards, FIJI Water Flying Fijians captain Semi Radradra divided over for Fiji’s second try.

The Flying Fijians were competing well with the World Cup hosts but a well-read pass from Frank Lomani put the result beyond doubt.

Lomani was looking to move the ball into midfield off a lineout but it was easily read by Sekou Macalou, who intercepted and sauntered across the whitewash unopposed.

Jaminet converted for a second time and then kicked a fifth three-pointer with 10 minutes remaining to seal the win.

Flying Fijians Head Coach Simon Raiwalui said France was a tough team on the day and came out with all guns blazing in front of the jam-packed crowd in Nantes.

“France is always a tough team and they put us under pressure in the areas like breakdown and turnovers. There were a lot of good things we did in the game but then we need to get better from here onwards” said Raiwalui.

Flying Fijians prop Jone Koroiduadua earned his first cap after coming in as a replacement in the second half.

Raiwalui congratulated Koroiduadua for this achievement and said “he played extremely well and gave his best shot for the spell of time he was on the field.”

Koroiduadua thanked the Flying Fijians management and players for their support throughout the week. “I’m blessed to be part of the Flying Fijians squad and I would like to thank the god, the coaches and players who believed in him and helped me in my role. I’m looking forward to playing many more games for Flying Fijians” said Koroiduadua.