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Watch: Manu Samoa v Manu Romania

The Romanian Oaks face down the Samoan Siva Tau

One international that flew under the radar over the weekend was Manu Samoa’s 17-13 loss to Romania in Bucharest.

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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.

Centre Paula Kinikinilau, 31, appeared for Otago in the 2010 NPC, while second five Jack Umaga is a former Mid Canterbury rep.

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…

The Ikale Tahi Tonga side is struggling to match the exploits of its league cousins, falling 39-6 to a Japan side, in which Michael Leitch scored a try.

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.

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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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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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