Sat 16 Jul 2022 | 01:15

Samoa edge Fiji for Pacific Nations Cup

Samoa edge Fiji for Pacific Nations Cup
Sat 16 Jul 2022 | 01:15
Samoa edge Fiji for Pacific Nations Cup
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REPORT: Unbeaten Samoa recovered from a 14-point deficit to beat hosts Fiji 23-20 on Saturday and win the Nations Cup for the first time in eight years.

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Hooker Seilala Lam was the hero, barging across for both his team’s tries at Churchill Park in Lautoka as the Samoans fought back from 17-3 down at halftime to win the four-nation tournament for a fourth time.

Australia ‘A’ finished second after outclassing Tonga 39-22 in the early match.

The Australian invitation side would have clinched the silverware if Samoa hadn’t launched their late response to make it three wins in three matches.

Five-time champion Fiji took control via tries midway through the first half to Albert Tuisue and Frank Lomani, the latter score coming via some sparkling footwork from the veteran scrum-half.

Lam entered the game as a replacement during the interval and soon sparked the fightback with a try from a lineout drive.

Flyhalf Rodney Iona, who landed five-from-five shots in a 13-point haul, narrowed the gap with two penalties before Leilala completed a period of pressure with a try to hand his side the lead 10 minutes from the end.

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It was the third time the second-string Australian side had been invited to the tournament, where they also finished as runners-up in 2007 and 2008.

They scored five tries in dismantling winless Tonga, with six-Test Wallabies winger Filipo Daungunu bagging a double and captain Ryan Lonergan kicking 12 points.

Tonga were again without former Wallabies back Israel Folau, who was eligible to play under World Rugby rules which allow a player to represent a second nation.

However, 33-year-old Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for posting messages deemed homophobic on social media, only played the first half hour of the opening match before suffering a hamstring injury.

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It is unclear if he will be available when Tonga play Hong Kong in an Asia/Pacific World Cup qualifying Test next Saturday on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

PV: 34
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