Samoa top Pacific Cup as Australia 'A' stun Fiji
PACIFIC NATIONS CUP WRAP: Hooker Ray Niuia scored a hat-trick of tries as Samoa beat Tonga 34-18 on Saturday to go top of the Pacific Nations Cup standings after tournament favourites Fiji were stunned 32-18 by Australia ‘A’.
The Samoans overcame a 15-point deficit, scoring the game’s last 31 points at Churchill Park in Lautoka to make it two wins from two at the four-nation tournament.
They will claim the silverware next Saturday with a win or draw against hosts Fiji, who paid for an error-prone performance against the Australian invitational side.
Tonga powered 18-3 ahead after inside centre Fetuli Paea and lock Veikoso Poloniati took advantage of their scrum dominance to score tries inside the first half-hour.
Samoa’s fightback was based around their lineout drive, which set up all three of Niuia’s tries in a 15-minute period, once before halftime and then twice after the break, both while Poloniati was in the sin bin for committing a professional foul.
Tries to inside centre Tumua Manu and Saracens flank Theo McFarland blew out the scoreline in Samoa’s favour.
Tonga featured eight starting changes from the side thrashed 0-36 by Fiji last week.
Fiji weren’t given the same space against the hard-working Australians, who led 15-13 at halftime through tries to lock Hugh Sinclair and wing Dylan Pietsch.
Fijian-born Filipo Daungunu and reserve lock Jeremy Williams crossed after the break for Australia A while a late penalty to captain Ryan Lonergan completed his 12-point tally.
Former All Black Seta Tamanivalu was among Fiji’s three try scorers and also provided an assist for fellow midfielder Levani Botia.
Samoa, who beat Australia ‘A’ 31-26 last week, are in line to claim a fourth Pacific Nations Cup crown while Fiji can still snare a record sixth title in the 15th edition of the tournament if successful next week.
The scores and scorers;
Australia ‘A’ 32 – 18 Fiji
For Australia A
Tries: Hugh Sinclair, Dylan Pietsch, Filipo Daugunu, Jeremy Williams
Cons: Ryan Lonergan 2, Ben Donaldson
Pens: Ryan Lonergan 2
Tries: Seta Tamanivalu, Levani Botia, Api Ratuniyarawa
Pen: Teti Tela
Samoa 34-18 Tonga
Tries: Ray Niuia 3, Tumua Manu, Theo McFarland
Cons: AJ Alatimu 2, D’Angelo Leuila
Pens: AJ Alatimu
Tries: Fetuli Paea, Veikoso Poloniati
Con: James Faiva
Pens: James Faiva 2