80:00
Sat 4 November 2017
FMG Stadium Waikato - Crowd: 18156

Tonga too good for spirited Samoans

The atmosphere was immense for this clash, almost Origin like despite being much smaller in size. The opening exchanges were very evenly matched, with neither side giving an inch, while hard hits and fast play was showcased by both sides.

Michael Jennings opened the scoring in the eleventh minute thanks to a Ken Maumalo fumble on his own goal line off a grubber. Taukeiaho converted.

Just five minutes later, the Samoan's hit back thanks to a great solo effort by rake Jazz Tevaga, who barged over and managed to get the ball down despite the defensive attention. Lafai added the extras to level the scores.

Neither side gave an inch for the next 10 minutes before Tonga received a penalty and Taukeiaho potted the gift two pointer to give Tonga an 8-6 lead.

They quickly extended their lead when Tupou batted a bomb back. The loose ball rolled into the Samoan in-goal and Jennings dived on it to bag his second try for the game. Taukeiaho converts yet again, and Tonga took a 14-6 lead into the break.

Another tough ten minute period started the second half before Peni Terepo barged over for a good try in the 52nd minute. Hingano converted and Tonga looked set to run away with it, leading 20-6.

Three minutes later Murdoch-Masila burst into a half gap and got his way over the line to further extend Tonga's lead. Hingano slotted another goal to take the lead out to twenty points.

Four minutes later and Samoa hit back when  Joseph Paulo made a great run and then got a magnificent offload away to Ben Roberts who scored a great try. Lafai converted. Eight minutes later and Samoa were in again thanks to some nice footwork by Lafai before overpowering his defender to score out wide. He converted from out wide to reduce the deficit to 8 points.

But their comeback was snuffed out when Ma'u strolled through a yawning gap close to the line to wrap the game up. Taukeiaho nailed the extras to give Tonga a 32-18 win.

3. Manu Ma'u

The powerful back rower made big inroads all game and capped off his great performance with the match winning try.

2. Mafoa'aeata Hingano

The young halfback had a good game, controlling his side's attack well, laying on some neat passes and producing a good kicking game.

1. David Fusitua

The powerful winger was forced into a positional change midway through the first half, to fullback and he handed the duties superbly.