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April 16, 2014

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Samoa takes crown at international rugby tournament in Las Vegas

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AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

Samoa’s Reupena Levasa drives through New Zealand defenders Zar Lawrence, left, and Kurt Baker, right, during their USA world sevens circuit rugby match cup final, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010, in Las Vegas. Samoa defeated New Zealand 33-12.

USA Sevens Cup Final

Samoan's Reupena Levasa outruns New Zealand's Lote Raikabula in the final of the USA Sevens International Rugby Tournament on Feb. 14, 2010. Samoa defeated New Zealand 33-12 for the tournament championship.
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Rugby terms to know

  • Stoppages: Play is stopped only when there is a rule violation, when the ball goes out of bounds or when there is a score.
  • Handling the ball: The ball can be passed laterally or backward, or kicked in any direction at any time during play. Throwing or dropping the ball in a forward direction is illegal.
  • Rucks: A ruck occurs after a tackle is made. Both teams converge over the ball and attempt to push the opposition off it.
  • Scrums: A scrum is a method of restarting play following a minor rule violation (such as a forward pass). Three players from both teams bind together and line up in front of the opposition. A member of the non-offending team places the ball in between the players and each team pushes against each other until possession is established.
  • Tries: A try is achieved by touching the ball down in the opposition's in-goal area (similar to a touchdown) and is worth 5 points. A try is then followed by a conversion, which is a drop-kick at goal worth 2 points.
  • Samoa is the 2010 USA Sevens Rugby Tournament champion following its 33-12 win over New Zealand on Sunday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

    “After we had a disaster with the tsunami, I think the boys really wanted a win to give back to the people,” Samoa coach Stephen Betham said, referring to the Sept. 29, 2009, earthquake that devastated the region. “They rose to the occasion today.”

    Mikaele Pesamino led Samoa’s championship run with 11 tries in the tournament, including two interception tries in the Cup final against New Zealand.

    “They had a couple of intercept tries, basically 14 points, which really killed us,” New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. “We had no coming back from that.”

    Alafoti Fa’osiliva got his team going with the opening tries of both halves, while Reupena Levasa also got on the score sheet with a try in the second half.

    Samoa is the only team that has beaten New Zealand so far this season, eliminating them from the Cup semifinals in New Zealand, and picking up a pool victory against them in South Africa.

    “It’s a challenge to the boys. They know that there are a few Samoan boys in the New Zealand team and I think it’s one of those island prides,” said Betham. “They don’t want the other Samoan boys playing for other countries to beat them.”

    Team USA

    The USA team went 3-0 in Day Two of the tournament and won the tournament’s Bowl bracket to finish ninth overall.

    “I said before the tournament that I don’t know if we can promise a cup win for the fans yet, but one thing I can promise them is that the guys won’t ever give up,” USA coach Al Caravelli said.

    The Bowl victory was crucial for the USA, as it gave the team points in the International Rugby Board rankings and helps the team avoid relegation next season.

    “They’re the first points of the season for us, which are really important to maintain core status in the IRB series because the top 12 teams go on the following year,” Caravelli said.

    The USA is now ranked 10th by the IRB.

    The team started its day with a 33-12 blowout of Guyana and looked as if that hot streak would continue when Matt Hawkins scored two tries in the first half against Argentina to help give the USA a 19-0 lead.

    However, Argentina threatened to come back when it scored two tries in the second half to make the score 19-14, but the USA held on for the win.

    “We just got up and sevens is so fast that they turned around and came back,” Hawkins said. “It was just like sort of a reality check and then we had to put our foot down.”

    Hawkins also proved to be pivotal in the finals match against France, scoring two tries in a thrilling seesaw battle.

    The French threatened to spark a comeback when Samy Ben Letaief scored after halftime to make the score 14-12.

    But the USA answered France’s challenge when Marco Barnard broke through the French defense in midfield before being taken down at the French five-meter line.

    Barnard passed to Hawkins from the ground after being tackled and Hawkins went in for an easy try.

    The USA went on to win, 28-17.

    Cup Championship Bracket

    Samoa was undefeated in the tournament and advanced to the final with a 17-10 win over Wales in the quarterfinals and a 14-12 win over Australia in the semifinals.

    New Zealand was also undefeated, up until the final, but its finals push came at a big price.

    The team had lost three starters when New Zealand’s leading try scorer, Sherwin Stowers, and starter Ben Souness were injured in their quarterfinal game against South Africa. Lote Raikabula was suspended later in the day due to dangerous play.

    “It affected us big time because we were down now to nine players and the three players who were ruled out were part of the top team,” Tietjens said.

    Despite the problems, New Zealand made its run with a 12-5 win over South Africa and a 17-10 win over Kenya in the semis.

    However, the Kenyans produced the most exciting game of the tournament with a 26-21 quarterfinal win against England.

    Kenya tied the game 21-all with a minute left and eight seconds in regulation after the Kenyans were awarded a penalty on England’s five-meter line, restarted play quickly and spread the ball to Biko Adema, who touched it down for the try.

    Kenya’s Benedict Nyambu finished the English in sudden-death overtime when the Kenyans stole the ball from an English scrum near midfield, and Nyambu took advantage, running through the disorganized English defense for the game-winning score.

    Plate Bracket

    South Africa came back from its loss against New Zealand in the tournament’s consolation Plate Bracket.

    The South Africans recorded a 27-14 blowout against England to advance to the Plate final.

    They went on to meet Fiji in a rematch of the Pool B decider after Fiji dominated Wales 32-0 in its Plate semi-final.

    This time around South Africa came out on top with a 12-7 win, thanks to tries from Cecil Afrika and Frankie Horne.

    Bowl Bracket

    The bottom eight teams of Day One’s pool play were relegated to the Bowl tournament bracket.

    France advanced to the Bowl semifinal with a 19-12 win over Canada in the first game of the day.

    Meanwhile, Chile earned its bowl semifinal berth against France with a 19-7 win over Japan.

    Last year’s USA Sevens champion, Argentina, got its first win of the tournament beating Scotland 14-7 to advance to the quarterfinals.

    Argentina fell to the USA, and France blew out Chile, 45-7, to giving the French momentum going into the Bowl Final.

    Shield Bracket

    After losses in the Bowl quarterfinals, Guyana and Scotland were relegated to the Shield semifinals, where Scotland came out on top, 31-7.

    Japan met Scotland in the Shield final after eliminating Canada from the tournament with 17-5 win.

    Japan and Scotland went into halftime with the score tied at 7-7, but Scotland proved to be too much for Japan in the second half, winning the Shield with a 17-7 victory.

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