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The Las Vegas Invitational Men’s Elite Cup Final saw Tribe take on Serevi Selects. Both sides were pushed in their semi-final matches—Tribe against Denver and Serevi Selects against Germany Developmental. Tribe was a much better side in the first half for most of their matches this weekend, but flipped that in the final and fought back. Tribe was down 0-14 at half time and ended up coming back to win 19-14 in extra time.
Shalom Suniula kicked the match off, and Tribe handled the restart cleanly and won a penalty. A promising move by Tribe ended with a pass that was ruled forward, which gave Serevi their first chance with the ball. They did not waste the chance, and Peter Tiberio scored the first try. Suniula converted, and it was 7-0 to Serevi.
From Suniula’s next restart, the ball was plucked cleanly by Serevi out of the air and they raced in for the score. Suniula’s conversion made it 14-0.
Tribe’s next chance came from a penalty for a deliberate knock on. Again, though, the Tribe possession ended with a scrum to Serevi, this time inside their own 22. Tribe won the ball back by tying up Psalm Wooching in a maul and winning their own scrum in a good position. Once again, a knock on killed their momentum, so the half ended 14-0.
Tiberio was yellow-carded a minute into the second half, and Tribe exploited the man-advantage. They launched an attacked from the Serevi 22. Ben O’Donnell stepped and dummied his way into the try zone from that movement to get Tribe on the board. The conversion was made to make it 14-7.
A Serevi knock on gave the ball back to Tribe inside the Serevi 22. A chaotic few moments that looked promising for Tribe ended with a scrum to Serevi. As Serevi was moving up the field, Jack Curtin successfully poked the ball from a ruck with his foot, gathered, and went in for the second Tribe score. The conversion tied the match 14-14, and Serevi was back to full strength.
A loose pass was intercepted by O’Donnell and the Serevi defense was tested again. This time, they ended up coming away with the ball through a penalty. Wooching was given space along the touchline and his run relieved the pressure for Serevi. At the final hooter, Serevi had the ball but the chance was spoiled by a forward pass. Regular time ended with a tie.
Early in the extra five minutes, Serevi had a lineout near midfield. However, Tribe won a breakdown penalty. Tribe moved down the pitch and Tom Kingston chipped through and Michael Adams collected the ball and flopped down for the match-winner.
Tribe coach Lewis Holland “It was a great game. To come back and get that score levelled and into extra time where nerves are really increasing and fatigue becomes a factor and for those boys to finish that game off the way they did was a credit to them.” Asked who had stepped up this weekend, Holland’s answer was quick: “Tommy Connor was outstanding all weekend.”
About the final chip through that won them the tournament, Holland said, “We’ve talked about that little play all weekend and we brought it out once and it got us the biscuits. We’ll take them and have a cup of tea with them.”
Tribe: Bennett Leslie, Nicki Tuvitu, Michael Adams, Tom Kingston, Ben O’Donnell, Tom Connor, Loveni Enari, Jack Curtin, Jon Enari, Sam Caslick
Serevi Selects: Setareki Bituniyata, Hoshua Bower, Sequoyah Burke-Combs, Isaiah Chinen, Tyler Coffman, Kellen Gordon, Jope Motokana, Caleb Nanoa, Michael Palefau, William Rasileka, Ryan Snider, Shalom Suniula, Peter Tiberio, Albert Tuisue, Psalm Wooching