Sonatane Takulua kicked 13 points as Tonga clinched a 28-18 win over Samoa in Suva on Saturday.
The scrumhalf orchestrated the victory with an excellent individual performance, while also producing a near-perfect display off the kicking tee with two conversions and three penalties.
Despite conceding three yellow cards, Tonga were in control of the contest from start to finish, dominating territory and possession. Samoa had to live off scraps and were lucky to only trail 20-6 at the break. Wings Viliami Lolohea and Cooper Vuna scored for Tonga with Takulua adding both conversions and a penalty.
Tonga pulled away on the scoreboard in the second half before their ill-discipline let Samoa back into the game.
An unconverted try and third penalty by Takulua pushed Tonga’s lead out to 28-6, but then referee Brendon Pickerill lost his patience and sent off hooker Seta Sakalia. In his absence, Samoa pulled five points back with a breakaway try from Ed Fidow.
Tonga’s replacement hooker Paula Ngauamo and flank Sitiveni Mafi were then both yellow-carded late in the game.
Samoa finished strongly as they kept the ball alive for five minutes after the hooter had sounded and were rewarded when Melani Matavao crossed in the 85th minute.
Tonga – Tries: Viliami Lolohea, Cooper Vuna, Penikolo Latu. Conversions: Sonatane Takulua (2). Penalty: Takulua (3).
Samoa – Tries: Ed Fidow, Melani Matavao. Conversion: Tusi Pisi. Penalties: Ah See Tuala (2).
Tonga – 15 David Halaifonua, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Nafi Tu’itavake, 12 Siale Piutau (c), 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Fotu Lokotui, 6 Sitiveni Mafi, 5 Joe Tu’ineau, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Subs: 16 Sefo Sakalia, 17 David Feao, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Valentino Mapapalangi, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Suke Tuumotooa, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 Penikolo Latu.
Samoa – 15 Ah See Tuala, 14 Paul Perez, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Dwayne Polataivao, 8 Jack Lam, 7 T.J. Ioane, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Chris Vui (c), 4 Joe Tekori, 3 Viliamu Afatia, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 Jordan Lay.
Subs: 16 Elia Elia, 17 James Lay, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Ofisa Treviranus, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 Rodney Iona, 23 Ed Fidow.
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