Tonga beats Samoa 30-26 in Pacific Nations Cup
Tonga beat Samoa 30-26 in a Pacific Nations Cup rugby test on Saturday, its first test in eight years in the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa.
In front of a crowd of 10,000 at Teufaiva Stadium, Tonga built a 20-16 lead by halftime then held out Samoa in the second half with a try, conversion and penalty to England-based scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua.
Tonga led 30-19 before a try to Alapati Leiua, converted by Tusi Pisi, brought Samoa within four points. But the home side hung on to join Samoa on five points on the Pacific Nations Cup table, behind leader Fiji with eight points.
Tonga will face Fiji in Suva next weekend while Samoa will host Fiji in Apia a week later.
The top-placed team at the end of the tournament will join Australia, Georgia, and Wales in Pool D at the 2019 Rugby World Cup while the second-placed team will qualify in the same pool as England, France and Argentina.
The third team will compete with a European qualifier for a place in Pool A with hosts Japan, Scotland and Ireland.
After an early penalty by its scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali'i, Samoa scored two quick tries through flanker Nili Latu and fullback 'Atieli Pakalani to open a 14-3 lead. Takulua kicked two penalties for Tonga and Fotuali'i added one for Samoa to complete the first half scoring.
Takulua's second half try seemed to make the game safe for Tonga, but Samoa came back strongly. Tonga was forced to hold out a try-scoring movement which might have snatched the game in extra time.
Tonga 30 (Nili Latu, 'Atieli Pakalani, Sonatane Takulua tries; Takulua 3 conversions, 3 penalties), Samoa 26 (Faifili Levave, Alapati Leiua tries; Tusi Pisi 2 conversions, 4 penalties). HT: 20-16