Rugby: Manu Samoa reserves his ticket for the Rugby World Cup with a victory over Tonga
Posted On July 20, 2021
Jonathan Taumateine of Manu Samoa was happy to have scored a try against Tonga. Photo / Getty
Manu Samoa has booked his ticket to the 2023 Rugby World Cup after facing Tonga 37-15 in Hamilton today.
Samoa were able to maintain their advantage in the first leg, having beaten their Pacific Islander neighbors 42-13 in Auckland last week, and can now look forward to a trip to France.
Samoa will join England, Japan, Fiji and an undetermined team from the Americas in Pool D at this tournament, still appearing likely to seal the two-set series in wet conditions in Hamilton.
“It’s very satisfying, the last four weeks have developed for this game,” said Samoan captain Michael Ala’alatoa. “We made it difficult for ourselves in the second half, they were in our faces and we couldn’t handle it well, but the boys held on.
“We expect nothing less when we play Tonga.”
Tonga needed to gain 30 points to close their deficit in the first leg and the difficulty of their task was compounded in the opening 20 minutes when lock Harrison Mataele and frontline pair Siua Maile and Jethro Felemi were forced out of the ground due to injury.
Samoa took the opportunity to gradually win the game, quickly gaining the advantage after capitalizing on an error-prone Tongan roster. Alamanda Motuga recovered from a lineout steal long before Rodney Iona threw a clever chopped pass so Ed Fidow could cross intact.
Tonga have always been physical in defense and enjoyed a good position on the pitch in the first half, but struggled to string together enough phases to seriously test the opposition’s defense. And Samoa were able to consolidate their ascendancy just before the break, with a nice break from Neria Fomai allowing Jonathan Taumateine to score his team’s second try.
That little extra quality separated the teams at half-time and it took Tonga until the start of the second half before they could put in double-digit stages.
They dominated large parts of the second spell and quickly closed the gap thanks to a try from Jay Fonokalafi, replacing him crossing the line after a strong recovery from Ben Tameifuna.
This try gave Tonga a boost again and a good period of possession was quickly rewarded with a second try, as Sione Tuʻipulotu reduced the deficit to eight after an effective lineout.
The set-piece was significantly improved for the Tongans in the second half and their chances of getting something out of the game were boosted when Samoan mainstay Tietie Tuimauga was sent to the trash.
But reduced to 14 men, Samoa slowed down the game and quickly sealed the victory, with Stacey Ili finishing a breakaway and Kalolo Tuiloma adding some shine to the score.
Tonga will still have a chance to win a trip to France, now heading on a different qualifying path that begins with a clash against Cook Islands next weekend.