Samoa off to flying start despite Kenyan resistance
Samoan coach Stephen Betham revealed he had had a tough job keeping his players' feet on the ground after their stunning 26-19 victory over New Zealand in February's USA Sevens in Las Vegas, a win that he freely admits brought the tears flowing.
'That win has really put a spring in our steps, but we've prepared hard for Hong Kong,' said Betham. 'The support we had in Vegas was just amazing - it was like having an eighth man on the field - and it was very emotional for us. But we've come here knowing things will be tough - and every game will be tough - so we've just got to set about getting the job done.'
The Samoans did that in the opening encounter, but did not have it all their own way as they fought off stiff resistance from a spirited Kenyan outfit before winning 19-7.
A barnstorming run from Ken Pisi was the show-reel highlight for Samoa with a minute left in the first half of the encounter as he tore through the heart of the Kenyan defence and carried two opponents with him over the line.
'Everyone is fit and well. We're happy with the win but we made a few mistakes,' said Betham. 'We let them back in the match, so we have to sort that out as the tournament progresses. Basically the goal is to make the quarter-finals and then you take things as they come from there.'
Next up for Samoa are Argentina and England, who knocked them out of the Cup 19-14 in the semi-finals last year, but Betham was not looking too far ahead - well, not yet anyway. 'There's no more easy games here with the format change, so we are preparing for every game like it's a test match,' said Betham.
'We prepared 100 per cent for Kenya and now we've cleared that hurdle, we've got Argentina to come. We can't afford to think about England, we have to worry about them later. But we know England in Hong Kong is tough because they have most of the crowd here - like we had in Vegas. We know what that feels like and it can make a huge difference.'