Coach Jackson: Manu Samoa ‘definitely unlucky’ to lose

By Thomas Airey ,

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Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson.

Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson. (Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer)

Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson could not imagine a worse way to lose a rugby game than what happened to his team against USA Eagles yesterday morning.

A last-gasp penalty kick stole the USA a 30-29 victory over the Manu in Jackson’s first game in charge.

“To say I’m a little gutted would be an understatement.

“The guys are devastated with the result, but we’ll take all the learnings from the game we can.”

Jackson said Samoa deserved the win after bouncing back strongly from a slow start that saw the Eagles take a 15-0 lead.

“We created more than enough opportunities.

“It’s frustrating to lose only because of a couple silly tries we gave them.”

He said the slow start was somewhat expected with USA having had a game against the Maori All Blacks last week.

“The response was really pleasing.”

An Ahsee Tuala line break at the 20 minute mark seemed to spur the Manu into life, with their first try coming soon after.

“He was great”, Jackson said.

“It’s just a shame we couldn’t capitalise on the good work of him and others.

“Kane Leaupepe was outstanding on debut.”

Leaupepe was one of five debutants, and Jackson said while results mattered more than anything, the Northern Hemisphere tour is a good chance to create depth ahead of the World Cup next year.

The coach was happy with most aspects of the team’s performance.

“We had a good scrum, were very strong defensively, and scored some nice tries off the back of a good attack.”

Jackson gave the players a clear directive before the game to kick out of hand often, wanting to play the game in USA’s half.

“We wanted to plug the corners and get the ball down the other end.”

He said they should be able to stop conceding cheap tries.

“That was just down to individuals throwing one-off careless passes.

“Giving them those opportunities having played well, we didn’t make USA work hard enough.”

He said they just need to cherish the ball a bit more and grind teams out.

The Manu Samoa will get their chance to respond next week against Georgia.

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