One international that flew under the radar over the weekend was Manu Samoa’s 17-13 loss to Romania in Bucharest.
It was notable, not for the fact that the world No 15 (Romania) was facing the No 16 (Samoa!), but that two of the Romanian side have Kiwi connections.
Motu Matu’u scored a try for Samoa, while Tim Nanai-Williams, again at first five, kicked three goals. Most of the rest of the Samoan team have played rugby in New Zealand, including Ahsee Tuala, Paul Perez, Kieron Fonotia, Rey Lee-Lo, former Auckland and North Harbour halfback Dwayne Polataivao, Jack Lam, Chris Vui, Fa’atiga Lemalu, Donald Brighouse, sibling props Jordan and James Lay, Manu Leiataua, Brandon Nansen and Alapati Leiua. With a side like that, it makes you wonder how they lost to the Oaks…
Former Blues and Northland halfback Tane Takalua kicked the two goals for Tonga, but there were some interesting names in the squad, other than the usual suspects. On the bench were Onehunga Havili, a talented young loose forward who was with the Western Force in 2017, but played his First XV rugby at Sacred Heart College in 2014. Alongside him was 2013 NZ Schools rep out of Auckland’s Tangaroa College George Taina, a dashing utility back.
Argentina tipped over Italy 31-15 in Florence, with Jayden Hayward and Dean Budd appearing for the Azzurri. Dylan Hartley and Nathan Hughes were again to the fore, this time as England’s withering finish saw off Australia 30-6.
Ireland rested a heap of front-liners, including Bundee Aki, and nearly came a cropper, 23-20, at the hands of Fiji, for whom Ben Volavola kicked four goals. Also appearing for the Flying Fijians were former Mooloos second-rower Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Steelers lock Sikeli Nabou and Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Milton Haig’s Georgia nearly tipped up Warren Gatland’s Wales, who prevailed 13-6, and will need to reintroduce their big guns quick-smart to face the All Blacks this weekend.
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