Fiji down Tonga in World Cup warm-up

2019-08-31 09:55
Rugby ball (File)
Rugby ball (File)

Auckland - Fiji tuned up for the Rugby World Cup with a hard-fought win over Tonga at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday, while Samoa overcame a New Zealand Heartland XV at the same venue.

The Fijians scored five tries to three as they combined trademark counter-attacking prowess with stalwart defence to down their Pacific rivals 29-19 despite Tonga dominating possession.

"We were trying to put together our phases and work as a team," Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu said. "I think we've done pretty well given that Tonga threw everything at us."

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu said before the match that it was the strongest side he had fielded in his four years in charge.

They had the ball for much of the first half and were rewarded with tries to Siale Piutau and Paula Nagauamo.

But Fiji hit back each time with intercept tries to Jousa Tuisova and Vereneki Goneva, then took a 17-12 lead into the break when Semi Kunatani scored after their first period of sustained pressure.

Tonga continued to graft in the second half but skipper Piutau said mistakes allowed Fijian flair to prevail.

"I'm proud of the effort the boys put in but obviously they made too many errors and they capitalised on it," he said. "You can't do that against a quality side like Fiji."

Both sides ended with 14 men after Fiji number eight Peceli Yato and his Tonga counterpart Maama Vaipulu were sinbinned over an exchange of punches in the final minutes.

It was Fiji's final match before the World Cup in Japan, while Tonga will face a stern Test next week when they face defending World Cup champions New Zealand in Auckland.

Earlier, Samoa finished strongly in a 36-19 win over a New Zealand Heartland XV made up of provincial players, after leading 15-14 at half time.

Captain Jack Lam said his side needed to improve to be competitive in their final warm-up against Australia in Sydney next week.

"We're happy to get the win in the end but they scored 19 points and there's a lot to work on this week before the Wallabies because they're on a different level at the moment," he said.

Samoa are in Pool A at the World Cup, a group that also includes Ireland, Scotland, Japan and Russia.

Read more on:    tonga  |  fiji  |  rwc 2019  |  rugby


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