Tonga exploited a yellow card to score a try and snatch a 27-19 win against Fiji in Suva on Saturday.
In a tightly contested match, the Fijians were leading 19-17 when Vereniki Goneava was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-down.
Tonga exploited their numbers advantage ruthlessly as scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua kicked his second penalty of the match to take them into the lead before replacement hooker Sefo Sakalia raced away to seal the game with a late try.
It was Tonga who started the game the strongest, going ahead after hooker Paula Ngauamo completed a wave of forward drives to dive over in the corner. Fiji drew level when they surprised the Tongans by taking a tighthead from a 5 metre scrum, which allowed scrumhalf Frank Lomani to go over and leave the sides deadlocked at half-time.
The visitors again started the half with a try by using their forwards to bulldoze their way past the Fijian pack, with lock Steve Matai scoring in the 44th minute.
However, Fiji first narrowed the scores through a well-worked try by Goneava before they went ahead when lock Viliame Mata showed a surprising turn of pace to sprint 80m and score, putting the hosts 19-14 ahead.
Takulua kicked two penalties to allow the visitors to regain the lead, before Goneava was carded and Sakalia scored to round off the victory.
Fiji – Tries: Frank Lomani, Vereniki Goneava, Viliame Mata. Conversions: Ben Volavola (2).
Tonga – Tries: Paula Ngauamo, Steve Matai, Sefo Sakalia. Conversions: Sonatane Takulua (3). Penalties: Takalua (2).
Fiji – 15 Keni Murimurivalu, 14 Timoci Nigusa, 13 Vereniki Goneava , 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Frank Lomani ; 8 Akapusi Qera (c), 7 Mosese Voka, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Viliame Mata, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Tuapati Taleimatoga, 1 Campese Ma’afu.
Subs: 16 Tuvere Vugakoto, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mosese Ducivaki, 19 Albert Tuisue, 20 Nemani Nagusa, 21 Seru Vularika, 22 Alivereti Veitokani, 23 Sevanaia Galala.
Tonga – 15 David Halaifonua, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Cooper Vuna, 11 Penikolo Latu, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Fotu Lokotui, 6 Maama Vaipulu, 5 Steve Mafi, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi
Subs: 16 Sefo Sakalia, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 David Fe’ao, 19 Daniel Faleafa, 20 Mike Faleafa, 21 Shinnosuke Tu’umoto’oa, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 James Faiva.
Photo: Baljeet Singh