Following a fifth-place showing in Hamilton, Samoa was extremely disappointed to be in the first match on Day 3 trying to avoid a last-place finish. Having finished sixth in Dubai and tied for tenth in both Cape Town and Sydney, there was no escaping the fact that Samoa would end the USA Sevens with the team’s worst finish of the season so far. But, Samoa still had the chance to finish with two-consecutive victories and, in doing so, secure that the team does not tumble out of the top ten in the Series standings.
For Uruguay, the match was the team’s final shot at claiming a win in the competition and would be against one of only four nations to ever win the Series title. It would also mark Uruguay’s first ever victory over Samoa, having lost all five prior meetings. Their last clash before today was four years ago in Las Vegas, with Samoa edging Uruguay 17–12.
Better part of the opening two minutes was spent in the Samoa half, but Uruguay could not come away with points. Instead, with fewer than thirty seconds of ball in-hand, Samoa accomplished what Uruguay could not, coming away with the initial score of the contest when Alatasi Tupou crossed for the score. Tila Mealoi’s conversion made it 7–0.
Uruguay was gifted an excellent opportunity when Samoa was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on the restart. The Uruguayans kicked for touch at the Samoa twenty-two and, after momentarily coughing up possession, were able to score in the far right corner with Felipe Etcheverry crossing for the points. Guillermo Lijtenstein connected on the long conversion to draw the match level.
The restart came with Samoa still playing down a man. The disadvantage did not prove to be too high a hurdle, as Joe Perez managed to work his way through the initial defensive front facing him back on his own try line, then getting inside the uruguay twenty-two before offloading to Laaloi Leilua for the score. Leilua converted his own try for the 14–7 lead. The lead did not last long, however, with Uruguay’s Diego Ardao dotting down in the right corner to end the half. Lijtensetein failed to repeat his magnificent conversion of the first try, leaving Samoa in front by two at the break.
Twenty seconds into the second hal found the shoe on the other foot, as Uruguay was shown yellow for throwing the ball away. Even with the ball inside the Uruguay twenty-two and playing 7 on 6, Samoa did not build on the lead before surrendering a penalty, allowing Uruguay to kick to touch. The kick both moved Uruguay down the pitch and helped to burn the penalty. Although Uruguay had to continue with only six men after the lineout, it was enough to win the throw and to earn a second penalty, killing the yellow card in the process. A second kick to touch had Uruguay attacking at the Samoa ten-meter line with a full complement of seven men.
A third penalty in the possession allowed Uruguay to once more march down the pitch through the boot, this time, the lineout coming at the Samoa twenty-two. From there, it was a fourth penalty, directly in front of the post, nineteen meters out with just under three minutes remaining. Had it been later in the contest, Uruguay may have considered kicking for points. Instead, the Uruguayans opted to take the slow tap and try an ill-advised chip over the Samoan defense. All the kick did was give the ball to Samoa and squander the hard work of the half. Forty seconds later, Samoa’s Tupou crossed for his second try of the match. The clutch conversion made it a two-score lead for Samoa with the restart coming at under thirty seconds.
Samoa disrupted the restart and succeeded in chewing up the remaining seconds of the match. In fact, Samoa mustered one last score on full time to continue the undefeated run in the all-time series against Uruguay: Samoa 26, Uruguay 12.
For Uruguay, the loss ends a fairly good showing, despite no wins. For Samoa, it means a match at 1:56 for the 13th-place points.