All credit to Samoa, winning the Gold medal at the Van2017 Pacific Mini Games tournament defeating Fiji 14-7 in the final.
Samoa lead 14-0 at half-time, but the one thing opponents know, is that Fiji is never to be underestimated and the second half was a physical and feisty affair.
When Fiji scored, seasoned pundits were nodding in expectation that the flood gates would now open, but to Samoa’s credit they have faced this foe before.
Samoa defended well and gave Fiji no space to do their trademark break and run and as the clock ran down it became more obvious that Samoa had what it was going to take to hold on to this Pacific Games title.
Having lost to Fiji in Port Moresby at the 2015 Pacific Games, Samoa was out for revenge and managed to repeat their Mini Games form from 2013 in Wallis and Futuna.
Perhaps the bigger story of the night though was the Bronze medal match between Tonga and Solomon Islands.
Tonga took the match with a 24-19 scoreline but it was a hard fought win.
Both teams knew the value of this match – not only was there a Games medal at stake but perhaps the bigger prize awaiting the winner was the final Oceania spot in the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup.
Solomon Islands had control in the first half of the game but Tonga fought back with both determination and a great deal of support from a very vocal Tongan contingent in the crowd.
In other results, New Caledonia secured a 17-12 win to secure 5th place, while the hosts Vanuatu finished a creditable 7th defeating Niue, an improved performance from the 11thplace ranking in the recent Oceania7s Championships.
Team Vanuatu walked along the athletics track in front of the stands to the cheers of the locals to show their appreciation of the support given and ended by sharing a group photo with opponent Niue in the commonly seen spirit of respect in rugby.
Wallis and Futuna had a strong win over Tuvalu to finish 9th.
The two day tournament has been a huge success for the organisers and a highlight of the Games with solid technical support from Oceania Rugby experts.
By Jill Scanlon
Photo By Peter Carroll