Samoa outplay Tonga in first World Cup qualifier
MATCH REPORT: Centre Henry Taefu scored a try among 20 points as Samoa beat Tonga 42-13 in the first match of a two-leg Rugby World Cup qualifying series.
Taefu, who plays for the Perth-based Western Force in Super Rugby, kicked two penalties to give Samoa a 6-3 lead at the end of a physical first half.
The match came to life in the second half with six tries – five to Samoa – including a run of four tries in a frenetic spell between the 45th and 55th minutes.
The teams meet again in Hamilton, New Zealand, next weekend and the team that has the best aggregate record after that match will qualify for the 2023 World Cup in France, slotting into Pool D with England, Japan, Argentina and a yet-to-be-determined qualifier from the Americas.
The loser will face the Cook Islands on July 24 in a repechage which will determine the last team to qualify for the World Cup from the Oceania region.
“The match was exactly what we expected it to be,” Samoa captain Michael Alaalatoa said.
“Obviously it was very tight in the first half. The Tonga boys, they came out firing and were really physical.
“We expected nothing less in a Samoa versus Tonga match. But we stuck to our game plan and towards the back end of that second half we started to get some points.”
Tonga came into Saturday’s match after losing 0-102 to the All Blacks last weekend.
Tries: Niuia, Motuga, Taefu, Fidow, Ili
Cons: Taefu 3, Leilua
Pens: Taefu 3
Pens: Takulua 2
Samoa: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Tomasi Alosio, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Neria Fomai, 10 Rodney Iona, 9 Auvasa Falealii, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Alamanda Motuga, 6 Olajuwon Noa, 5 Samuel Slade, 4 Benjamin Nee-Nee, 3 Michael Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Ray Niuia, 1 Tietie Tuimauga.
Replacements: 16 Seilala Lam, 17 Jona Aoina, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Theo McFarland, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 D’Angelo Leuila, 23 Ed Fidow.
Tonga: 15 James Faiva, 14 Penikolo Latu, 13 Fine Inisi, 12 Nikolai Foliaki, 11 Hosea Saumaki, 10 Kalione Hala, 9 Sonatane Takulua (captain), 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Mateaki Kafatolu, 6 Sione Tu’ipolotu, 5 Zane Kapeli, 4 Don Lolo, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Sam Moli, 1 Jethro Felemi.
Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Duke Nginingini, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Harrison Mataele, 20 Viliami Taulani, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Nafi Tuitavake, 23 Sam Vaka.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey (New Zealand) and Marcus Playle (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)