Samoa has returned to USA Sevens glory, winning its second Cup title in three years.
Scoring the game-winning try at the death of the 26-19 Cup final against New Zealand was Alafoti Faosiliva, the tournament MVP in 2010, the last time Samoa won in Las Vegas.
USA Sevens was just Faosiliva’s second tournament back with the Samoan 7s program since spending the last year playing in France. He wasn’t perfect on the weekend, as he still has some weight to cut and stamina to build, but he led Manu with six tries on the weekend, including three in the Cup quarterfinal against Kenya and the tournament winner.
“We’re confident he can do the job, but, you know, we’re just glad he did it when he needed to,” said Samoa coach Stephen Betham.
“(France) didn’t go that well for him. He’s finding his feet in back in the 7s. It’s an entirely different ball game. He’s building up well again…He’s got some more things to work on. He’s not 100-percent, but we’ll take the credit for him running through people.”
Also aiding Samoa to the Cup title was Paul Perez, who scored four tries on the weekend, including the one that sparked Manu’s comeback against Fiji in the Cup semifinals. Perez played with Samoa in the 2005 Sevens World Cup, but then headed to New Zealand to play 15s. Only prior to the 2011.2012 season did he return.
“Paul Perez is a great addition to the team,” said Betham. “He came and told me he wanted to play 7s for the whole year, so we gave him the chance and he’s playing well now.”
“I just want to give something back to the Samoan people, being away for so many years,” said Perez. “I just want to play 7s now.”
Also helping lift Samoa to victory was an uncountable throng of Samoa fans, who turned Sam Boyd Stadium into a home field for Manu.
“Looking at the crowd, I think there’s more Samoans here than in Samoa,” joked Betham, “but we enjoy it very much.”
“It was really amazing. The atmosphere here is really good,” added Perez. “I feel like I’m playing back home. It was really awesome. Thanks to all the Samoan supporters out there.”