The Ikale Tahi Tonga team welcomed Manu Samoa to the newly re-opened Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku’alofa, Tonga in front of a home crowd of 10,000 in beautiful sunshine for the first match of the 2017 Pacific Nations Cup (PNC).
The results of this year’s tournament, featuring Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, will be combined with the 2016 tournament results to determine qualifying spots for RWC 2019 in Japan. Therefore it was a must win game for Tonga who had lost both PNC matches in 2016.
Manu Samoa opened the scoring with a successful penalty goal from of Tusi Pisi before IIkale Tahi Tonga responded strongly with a try apiece from Nili Latu and Atieli Pakalani both successfully converted by Sonatane Takulua to bring the score to Tonga 14 Samoa 3 after 16 minutes.
The first half action didn’t stop there as Samoa responded with a try as Faifili Levave went over for Samoa’s first try. Tonga continued to attack however and earned a penalty which was successfully kicked by Sonatane Takulua. Samoa then earned a penalty of its own which Tusi Pisi slotted to finish the first half scoring that saw Tonga lead Samoa 17-16 at half time.
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The second half started in similar fashion with Tonga’s Sonatane Takulua and Samoa’s Tusi Pisi trading penalties. Takulkua continued to be the star for the home team and he scored and converted his own try on the 46 minute mark before adding another penalty after 51 minutes to give Tonga a 30-19 lead.
With 3mins left in the game Samoa had the ball on the 22m line in a Maul but were denied a try with Tonga holding the ball up to take the win at home 30 – 26.
Sensing the match was getting away from them Samoa threw everything at Tonga and crossed for a try to Alapati Leiua that was converted by Pisi to make the score 30-26. With minutes left Samoa had another opportunity but brave Tonga defence kept them out and Tonga ran out winners 30-26.
Whilst this win isn’t enough to lift Tonga from 3rd place in the standings the ?Ikale Tahi are level with Samoa on five points will be looking to continue this form against the Flying Fijian’s next Saturday 8 July, 3pm at home.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
7 min: #10 Tusi Pisi pen TON 0 – 3 SAM
12 mins: #7 Nili Latu try, # 9 Sonatane Takulua con TON 7 – 3 SAM
16 mins: #15 Atieli Pakalani try, # 9 Sonatane Takulua con TON 14 – 3 SAM
20 mins: #10 Tusi Pisi pen TON 14 – 6 SAM
29 mins: #8 Faifili Levave try, #10 Tusi Pisi con TON 14 – 13 SAM
32 mins: #9 Sonatane Takulua pen TON 17 – 13 SAM
34 mins: #10 Tusi Pisi pen TON 17 – 16 SAM
41 mins: # 9 Sonatane Takulua pen TON 20 – 16 SAM
43 mins: #10 Tusi Pisi pen TON 20 – 19 SAM
46 mins: # 9 Sonatane Takulua try and con TON 27 – 19 SAM
51 mins: # 9 Sonatane Takulua pen TON 30 – 19 SAM
64 mins: #14 Alapati Leiua try, #10 Tusi Pisi con TON 30 – 26 SAM TONGA 30 TRY: Nili Latu, Atieli Pakalani, Sonatane Takulua CON: Sonatane Takulua (3) PEN: Sonatane Takulua (3)
SAMOA 26 TRY: Faifili Levave, Alapati Leiua CON: Tusi Pisi (2) PEN: Tusi Pisi (4)