The Sir Gordon Tietjens side held Russia to a 19-all draw after wins in the other two pool matches against Australia and Fiji in the HSBC World Sevens Series in Paris overnight.
Perfect conditions for sevens rugby saw the day get underway with Olympic champions Fiji take on Samoa. Under Tietjens the Samoans have had mixed fortunes this season but took the field in good spirits on Saturday morning. The opener turned out to be something of a classic, with tries, offloads and open, running rugby entertaining the early morning risers as the Samoans matched their Pacific rivals, holding out until the end for Tila Meoloi to cross under the posts and the resulting conversion sealed the win.
Australia beat a resilient Russian side 19-12 in the following match before Fiji put the Russians to the sword with a 54-0 victory later in Pool D.
It was Samoa who once stole the show again later in the day when they matched Australia’s pace and skill to score tries through Alamanda Motuga and two from Alatasi Tupou which put the game out of reach of the Australians. Speaking afterwards, coach Gordon Tietjens admitted it was good to see encouraging signs from his team after a rocky season:
“It’s obviously been a tough year for us, but we’re starting to get a lot more consistency in our game and the guys are really starting to pick it up. I think we’re a lot fitter now. Two good wins…it’s a great start for us in this tournament.”
Samoa later guaranteed their place in the quarter finals with a 19-19 draw against Russia; they had to rely on replacement Francis Ieremia to score in the final minute to deny Russia a famous scalp. Australia were no match for Fiji in the last Pool D match, as tries from Kalione Nasoko and Vatemo Ravouvou in the second half put the game out of sight to finish 31-14 in favour of the Olympic champions.
The action continues on day two when Canada and Russia get the action underway at the Stade Jean Bouin.
Photo World Rugby: Tila Meoloi crosses the line to seal Samoa's win against Fiji