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Samoa rock Japan as captain Leitch red carded

By Ian Cameron
Japan's Michael Leitch (L) walks off after receiving a red card during the rugby union match between Japan and Samoa in the Lipvitan D Challenge Cup at the Sapporo Dome in Sapporo on July 22, 2023. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)

In a gripping Pacific Nations Cup encounter at the Sapporo Dome, Samoa claimed a narrow 24-22 victory over hosts Japan.


Japan scored first through Amato Fakatava, who powered through the defensive line to score a try. Seungsin Lee added the extra points with a successful conversion, giving Japan an early 7-0 advantage. A further penalty for Lee stretched the lead to 10-0.

Samoa, however, quickly regrouped and their efforts soon paid off when Alamanda Motuga breached Japan’s defense and crossed the try line for a 5-pointer.

Former Wallaby standoff Christian Leali’ifano added the conversion.

The match took a dramatic turn when Japan’s Michael Leitch was shown a red card, leaving Japan with a numerical disadvantage.

The game continued to be a tightly contested battle however, with Lee’s boot keeping Japan in front.

The momentum swung towards Samoa’s favour when Jonathan Taumateine bulldozed his way through Japan’s defense to score another try just after halftime, once again aided by Leali’ifano’s successful conversion which put Samoa into the lead for the first time.

Despite being a man down, Japan fought valiantly, adding more pressure on Samoa.

Seungsin Lee’s successful penalty goals kept Japan in contention, but Samoa managed to hold their ground, with Tumua Manu eventually scoring for the visiting side in the 61st minute.


The resulting conversion was the last score of the game.


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finn 363 days ago

extremely impressive stuff from seilala mapasua

in just under 3 years he's taken samoa from 15th to 10th in the world rankings, with a squad of players that is both inexperienced and aging, and almost universally acknowledged to lack the star quality of the other pacific nations

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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