8 Jul 2015

Manu Samoa still winners despite loss

7:15 pm on 8 July 2015

Manu Samoa might have lost to the All Blacks on the rugby field today but the feeling amongst locals is they've won simply by getting the World Champions to play in Samoa.

All Blacks v Manu Samoa, Apia Park, 8 July 2015

Fans arrive early to the match in Apia Park - waving both countries' flags. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The All Blacks won the historic test 25-16 in what was a clean game although there were plenty of fumbled balls - perhaps due to sweaty hands struggling to hold the ball.

Read Radio New Zealand Sport's play-by-play coverage of the match

The teams met under a cloudy sky and were initially cooled by a slight breeze but that dropped right away during the second half, leaving them to swelter.

A fair number of New Zealanders were at Apia Park but they were well and truly outnumbered by Samoans - both in number and in voice.

The roar when the teams ran out on to the field was huge, reflecting the emotion behind the game.

It was topped only by the explosion of cheering and yelling when Manu Samoa scored halfway through the second half, not stopping for more than a minute.

The game had started with a minute's silence for fallen Samoan and New Zealand greats, and uppermost in the minds of many Manu Samoa and All Blacks players - and indeed the crowd - would have been Jerry Collins.

Collins and his partner Alana Madill were killed in a car crash in France last month. The Samoan-born All Blacks great had long advocated for international rugby rules to change so people such as himself could give back to their country of birth when their career at top level had finished.

People in the crowd said they were also remembering the late Samoan great Peter Fatialofa, who played for Samoa for many years before coaching the team.

Samoa has wanted the All Blacks to play on their soil for years and Fatialofa was a strong advocate for it to happen.

Broadcaster John Campbell was a driving force behind the campaign to bring the All Blacks to Samoa and is in Apia as a commentator for today's match. Many credit him for finally making it happen, with one sign in the crowd reading "John Campbell for PM".

Apia Park had been revamped for the occasion and was filled to capacity, with 8104 tickets sold.

Players from both sides take a moment after the end of the history-making match.

Players from both sides take a moment after the end of today's history-making match in Apia. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

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New Zealand's Charles Piutau faces a tackle during today's match. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Dan Carter kicks against Samoa 2015

The All Blacks' Dan Carter takes a kick against Manu Samoa. Photo: PHOTOSPORT