Tonga claimed an exciting 30-26 win over Samoa in their Pacific Nations Cup opener in Nuku’alofa on Saturday.
The tournament, which doubles up as a qualifier for the 2019 World Cup, is being contested by Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. The Fijians are currently in the ascendancy with eight log points, while Samoa and Tonga are level on five points after Saturday’s result.
Hosting a Test at the Teufaiva Stadium for the first time in eight years, Tonga outscored Samoa by three tries to two to seal the victory.
Samoa were first on the board after a Tusi Pisi penalty, but tries by Otenili Langilangi and debutant Atieli Pakalani gave Tonga a 14-3 lead. Samoa would add a converted try and two more penalties to their tally, but a penalty by Sonatane Takulua saw Tonga lead 17-16 at the break.
Takalua enjoyed a superb second half. The scrumhalf added 13 points for Tonga via two penalties and a self-converted try, while Pusi kicked a penalty for the visitors.
Samoa had the final say with a try through Alapati Leiua just after the 60-minute mark, but Tonga staved off Samoa’s other attempts, to hold on for the victory.
Tonga – Tries: Otenili Langilangi, Atieli Pakalani, Sonatane Takulua. Conversion: Takulua (3). Penalties: Takulua (3).
Samoa – Tries: Faifili Levave, Alapati Leiua. Conversions: Tusi Pisi (2). Penalties: Pisi (4).
Tonga – 15 'Atieli Pakalani, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Nafi Tu'itavake, 12 Siale Piutau (c), 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Latiume Fosita, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Valentino Mapapalangi, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Dan Faleafa, 5 Sitiveni Mafi, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi.
Subs: 16 Suliasi Taufalele, 17 Latu Talakai, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Jack Ram, 20 Mike Faleafa, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Kali Hala, 23 Tevita Taufui.
Samoa – 15 Tim Nanai Williams, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Reynold Lee-Lo, 11 David Lemi (c), 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotualii, 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Galu Taufale, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1 Nephi Leatigaga.
Subs: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 James Lay, 19 Masalosalo Tutaia, 20 Taiasina Tuifua, 21 Auvasa Falealii, 22 D'Angelo Leuila, 23 Henry Taefu.