Fiji and Tonga showcased everything that is good about Pacific Islands rugby with an entertaining spectacle at Eden Park that eventually went the way of the Flying Fijians on a 29-19 scoreline.
The evidence suggested defence might be a struggle for both teams at the World Cup, but spectators in Japan can expect some front foot thrills from these countries as their respective attacks produced moments to savour at a quarter-full ground in Auckland.
Much is especially expected from Fiji at the World Cup as they are seen as a potential ambush for the likes of Wales and Australia in their pool, and John McKee will feel things are slotting into place as they prepare to head to Japan in the hope of achieving quarter-final qualification for the first time since 2007.
They started this warm-up Test slowly, though, falling behind to an easy score from Tongan skipper Siale Piutau, but they quickly demonstrated the trait that everyone knows and loves about their game – their ability to score tries from long range.
Full Time at Eden Park in New Zealand. Fiji takes a close 29-19 win over Tonga in the Pasifika ChallengeII. Few more weeks to work before meeting Australia in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan on the 21st of September. #fijivstonga #PasifikaChallengeII #itsfijistime
— Fiji Rugby Union (@fijirugby) August 31, 2019
A lineout maul was the source of Tonga’s try in reply, Paula Ngauamo getting driven over the line before Fiji struck with two scores in succession through Vereniki Goneva and Semi Kunatani to secure a lead heading into half-time.
‘I have the season at Northampton that I can do well in. The World Cup is the pinnacle and probably by the next one I will be more hopeful of going’
– @TaqeleN gives @heagneyl an insight into @SaintsRugby, his @fijirugby hopes and Japan's @rugbyworldcup
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 30, 2019
They didn’t slack off on the resumption, skipper Dominko Waqaniburotu and hooker Samuel Matavesi adding a couple of more tries before Tonga made things interesting again for the final quarter with a try from Sosefo Sakalia.
There was no love lost between these island nations, yellow cards for punch-throwing pair Maama Vaipulu and Perceli Yato highlighting the needle that materialised. In the end, though, Fiji did enough to see out the win.
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