Above: Action from the final of the Village Kings tournament between Aiga Malisi and the Wainuiomata Samoans.
Aiga Malisi won today’s 10-team Village Kings 10s tournament hosted by the Wellington Samoan Rugby Union at Porirua Park.
The Aiga Malisi team, comprised of well-known Marist St Pat’s players such as playmaker Fa’atonu Fili and recently named Wellington Development Player of the Year Matt Peni, beat the Wellington Fijians in the semi-final and then the Wainuiomata Samoans in the final.
They won both Cup knockout matches at the death, and Ryan Setefano was the winning try-scorer on both occasions.
In the Cup semi-final, Setefano crossed out wide after a big break up the middle and a last-ditch attacking play, to see them beat the Wellington Fijians 17-14.
The Fijians had previously come back from 0-10 down at halftime to score two converted tries with an Aiga Malisi in the sin-bin to lead 14-10 heading into the final moments.
In the Cup final, Setefano broke from a defensive scrum deep inside his 22 in a scorching 80-metre run up the far side touchline to score in the same corner and Fili slotted the conversion with the last play of the tournament to see them beat the Wainuiomata Samoans 14-7.
Aiga Malisi had scored the only try of the first half, soon after former Samoan sevens legend Uale Mai left the field injured, breaking out to score from a turnover 70 metres out.
The Wainuiomata Samoans won a lineout steal and scored a try to open the second half, Derek Lealiifano converting to lock the scores up at 7-7. In gathering gloom, five minutes of extra time was on the cards, before Aiga Malisi turned defence into attack and Setefano raced clear.
Both Aiga Malisi and the Wainuiomata Samoans had topped their pools. The two teams that came second in their pools, the Wellington Fijians and the Wellington Samoans, met in the Plate 3rd v 4th match, with the Wellington Samoans prevailing 19-14.
In another hard-fought match, both sides scored two tries apiece in the first half and the Wellington Fijians held a 14-12 lead at halftime. The Wellington Samoans broke out of their own half to score what proved to be the match-winning try early in the second half.
The Wellington Samoans had missed out 14-22 to the Wainuiomata Samoans in their Cup semi-final – the Wainuiomata team leading 5-0 at halftime and then skipping clear to a 22-0 lead before the Wellington side came back with two quick tries.
PJ Isoefo for the Wellington Samoans was the Player of the Tournament.
The Bowl was won by Tanugamanono, who defeated the visiting Queensland Samoans 22-17 in that final.
Tanugamanono had defeated defending champions Moata’a 24-12 in their Bowl semi-final, while beaten Bowl finalists the Queensland Samoans had edged Faleata 22-19 in their semi-final after scores had been 12-12 at halftime.
The two men’s teams also competing that missed out on the knockout rounds were both visiting sides from up the highway – Horowhenua Kapiti Samoans and the Manawatu Samoans.
A three-match series was also played throughout the day between the visiting Queensland Women’s team and the Wellington Samoans Women. The home side won all three encounters, but the visitors improved in each game.
Men’s Pool play started at 9am and went through to 2pm. The Wellington Fijians were involved in the lowest scoring win (12-15 defeat to Faleata) of pool play and the only draw (19-19 with Wainuiomata) of pool play.Moata’a’s 50-0 win over Horowhenua Kapiti was the biggest win of the day.
Many of the players that played in this tournament will be back in action for their clubs in next weekend’s second leg of the American Ambassador’s tournament at Mary Crowther Park in Wainuiomata.