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Marist wins the cup in thriller

Many thought it was going to be a repeat of last year’s final, with BBE Vaiala Ulalei taking home the cup for the second consecutive year. But Marist St. Joseph’s made sure it was only wishful thinking by exploding into the game and taking the defending champions completely unawares, with three unanswered tries by halftime.

Leki Magela, Phillip Tuigamala and Etuale Pitone put 19 points on the scoreboard for their team, each scoring a try with two tries converted by Pitone. Vaiala seemed dazed and with no ball possession coming their way, they could only scramble to defend their tryline from the Marist attacks.

However, after receiving instructions from Coach Falefatu Enari on the areas they needed to concentrate on, Vaiala came back in the second half with guns blazing and within minutes from kick-off, Oneone Faafou crossed the Marist tryline to put the first points for his team on the scoreboard. The try was converted by Patrick Faapale bringing the game score to 19-7.

This changed again minutes later to 19-14 when Lei’a Saofaiga dived across the line at the corner of the field, and again Faapale banged the ball between the posts.

With the time ticking away, the spectators were sitting on the edge of their seats – the Vaiala “Blackie” supporters cheering on their team to score a converted try to gain a 21-19 lead, while the Marist supporters willed their players to hold on to their lead.

Unfortunately for Vaiala, the green machine did more than hold them off in the dying minutes of the game. Pati Tele crossed the Vaiala tryline for the clincher and the game ended with Marist winning 24-14.

The Marist supporters went wild with joy and they jumped up and down on the grandstands chanting and cheering. Marist St. Joseph’s skipper Afa Aiono who is also the current captain of the Manu Samoa Sevens, won the MVP award and he acknowledged with thanks the effort by his teammates in all their games and especially the finale.

“I would like to thank the boys for playing their hearts out,” he said. “We knew this game was not going to be easy but we gave it our all.”

Marist coach and former Manu Samoa first-five Roger Warren echoed Aiono’s sentiments.

Warren stated that they came into the tournament as “underdogs which in a way was good because the focus wasn’t on us and we slowly advanced through the pool games to eventually reach the finals.”

“Our game plan was to defend our tryline and counterattack and I think the boys did that with dexterity in the first half of the game,” Coach Warren said. “Taking the cup home for our 25th anniversary was another motivation for the boys’ exceptional performance.”

The Marist coach also acknowledged the Vaiala BBE Ulalei team for a tough and action-packed game.

Results of the other divisions of the 25th Annual Marist Samoa Vailima Sevens are as follows;

Vailele def. Laulii 33-7 for 3rd and 4th places.

Letava def. Moamoa 24-22 in the Shield division

Vaimoso def. Tepatasi 14-7 in the Bowl division

Moataa def. SCOPA 12-5 in the Plate division