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Fiji beat Tonga in Pasifika

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Fiji get one over Tonga in feisty Pasifika Challenge

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. 

Pacific Island neighbours Samoa had opened the Pasifika Challenge II with a 36-19 win over a New Zealand Heartland XV before the event’s main attraction got going. 

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. 

It was Semi Radradra who was the instigator of a move rounded off by Josua Tuisova when they countered off possession Tonga spilt on the opposition 22. 

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. 

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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Fiji get one over Tonga in feisty Pasifika Challenge