The South China Tigers produced an inspiring last 20 minutes to score an emphatic 52-27 victory over Manuma Samoa in their opening Rapid Rugby clash at HBF Park in Perth.
Manuma Samoa led 18-17 at the break after an enterprising first half that saw the lead change four times.
The Samoans took the lead with a penalty by flyhalf D’Angelo Leuila before the Tigers responded with a try by flank Josh Dowsing, converted by flyhalf Glyn Hughes, to give them a 7-3 lead.
Minutes later, the Samoans regained the lead at 8-7 with a try by flank Oneone Soisoi, which was not converted.
With both teams using the width of the field and playing attacking rugby, play swept from one side of the field to the other, allowing the Tigers to regain the lead with a well-taken try by wing George Watkins.
Two minutes later prop Alofaaga Sao went over for Samoa with a powerful drive close to the line. Leuila converted to restore Samoa’s lead at 15-12. Leuila then added a penalty to extend the advantage to 18-12 before fullback Nathan De Thierry crossed for the Tigers to reduce the deficit to one point at the change.
Shortly after the break, the Tigers went in front again, lock Mark Prior adding their fourth try and Hughes converting to give them a 24-18 lead.
Manuma Samoa delivered a clinical response from the restart, producing the tournament’s first Power try. They kept possession to move the ball wide and create an opportunity for Soisoi to score his second and add nine points to their tally to put them back in front at 27-24.
The Tigers were undaunted, sticking to their structures to produce four unanswered tries in the final 20 minutes to secure a well-deserved victory.
Their fifth try was scored by fullback De Thierry and converted by Hughes, to give them a 31-27 lead. They kept up the pressure to produce further tries through by number eight Luke van de Smit, flank Josh Dowsing and replacement hooker Callum McFeat Smith, all converted by Hughes, to put the result beyond doubt.
Manuma Samoa: tries Oneone Soisoi (2, one Power try), Alofaaga Sao, conversions D’Angelo Leuila, penalties Leuila 2
South China Tigers: tries Josh Dowsing (2), George Watkins, Nathan De Thierry (2), Mark Prior, Luke van de Smit, Callum McFeat Smith, conversions Glyn Hughes 6.