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Tonga win Oceania U20 Championship over Samoa

The Tonga Under 20 rugby team celebrating their win in Apia yesterday. Photo: OCEANIA RUGBY

By Thomas Airey 

APIA, Samoa – December 9, 2018: 10.16am (Samoa Observer): The Samoa Under-20 rugby team will miss next year’s World Rugby U20 Trophy after their second straight loss to Tonga.

After a four-point loss in the first game on Tuesday, Samoa lost 27-20 at the ACP Marist Park in Lotopa yesterday afternoon.

The win means that Tonga successfully qualifies for the World Rugby Under 20s Trophy next year in Brazil.

Tonga and Samoa U20 teams in action.

Tonga and Samoa U20 teams in action. (Photo: Oceania Rugby)

Mistakes plagued both teams in Tuesday’s game, and Samoa coach Mailo Potu Leavasa promised better after a week of training.

But despite some better periods of play, similar errors cost his team the win again.

Captain and first-five Simon-Peter Toleafoa said they did put some things right.

“But that wasn’t a complete performance, that’s why we lost.

“They’re a good team, they just applied the pressure, played at the right end.”

He said Samoa should have tried for more territory.

“The forward pack did their best, I couldn’t direct our backs well enough, that’s on me.”

Things started well for Samoa, as they scored a try from a scrum within their own 22.

They went to the blindside and kicked over the line, recovering and scoring to take a 5-0 lead.

Tonga went to the pick-and-go, and put together perhaps the most phases either side had managed so far this week.

However, they lost the ball when they tried to go wide, and Samoa scored under the posts following some lovely attacking play through the backs.

Winger Mo’o Mo’o Falaniko somehow missed the conversion from right in front – the worst part of a shocking 0/4 day off the tee for Samoa.

Tonga scored a fortuitous try when the ball bounced favourably after a chargedown, and scored again after some brilliant running rugby.

Having converted both of those tries, Tonga held a 14-10 lead around the 30 minute mark.

Samoa forced a penalty around 20 metres out from Tonga’s line directly in front of the posts and kicked for touch with no thought of trying for goal.

However it paid off when a set piece from a scrum set Pati Pati loose for a great try, making the score 15-14 at halftime.

Tonga got their man back from the sin bin early into the second half, and winger Lisiate Folau soon scored from 80 metres out after fielding a kick.

Tonga kicked a penalty goal to reach a 24-15 lead.

Samoa got some inspiration from fullback Pio Fuiono, who dived for an incredible pickup of an offload that hit the ground behind him then scored.

Despite having scored four tries to three, Samoa still trailed 24-20.

With 15 minutes left some punches thrown off the ball saw Folau given a red card, with replacement hooker Albert Onelei receiving a yellow for retaliating.

Tonga kicked a drop goal to seal the win, and Samoa couldn’t hold the ball long enough to respond in the last few minutes.

Toleafoa said the team will have to come back stronger next year.

“To all Samoa, sorry we couldn’t get the result, the boys tried their best but it went the other way.”






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