Samoa came back to knock off Fiji in the most anticipated Cup semifinal, with Fijian and Samoan flags outnumbering every other country’s in Sam Boyd Stadium
Fiji opened scoring when Waisea Nayacalevu streaked long-distance for a try, converted, taking a 7-0 lead.
Fiji attacked again off of a scrum on Samoa’s 40-meter line. Keeping the ball off of the deck but passing through three sets of hands, the last belonging to Setefano Cakau, Fiji went up 12-0.
Samoa finally put together its first threatening attack near the end of the half, but it was thwarted about 10 meters out when Alatasi Tupou knocked on while trying to fling an offload to what could have been a scoring support runner.
Manu carried the momentum into the second half, and Paul Perez got Samoa on the board by taking a strong inside line and outracing Fiji to the finish line. Fiji 12-7 Samoa.
Fiji went back on the offensive, but an obstruction put the ball in the hands of surging Samoa. Fiji put on an impressive display of Polynesian defense, leveling a couple of Samoan ballcarriers, but Samoa kept its poise and took the lead when Faatoina Autagavaia slipped through for a try, converted, to take a 14-12 lead with 90 seconds to play.
On Fiji’s next possession, Metuisela Talebula, kicked downfield in the hopes of recovering it for the winning try, but Autagavaia won the race and grounded the ball for a 22-meter kick. Samoa secured possession and cleared the ball into touch prompting the final whistle, following a Fijian penalty.
In the other semifinal, New Zealand also took an early lead, but didn’t relinquish it. Bryce Heem, Mark Jackman and Tomasi Cama dotted down for the All Blacks in the first half, and Cama hit one conversion. DJ Forbes scored New Zealand’s fourth try, putting the All Blacks up 20-0. It wasn’t until extra time that South Africa got on the board.
The Samoa vs. New Zealand final is a rematch of a pool game the All Blacks won 12-5 Friday.