Fiji hold off Tonga in PNC opener

Date published: July 18 2015

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Fiji got their Pacific Nations Cup campaign off to a fine start with a 30-22 victory over Tonga in Suva on Saturday.

It wasn't plain sailing for Fiji though, as the lead changed hands four times, and they had to wait until the 75th minute when a try from replacement prop Peni Ravai sealed the win. 

Fiji's fly-half Ben Volavola proved the difference between the sides as he contributed 15 points via three conversions and three penalties. 

Tonga opened the scoring through a try by their wing Fetu'u Vainikolo in the sixth minute but Volavola reduced the deficit with a penalty midway through the half before Henry Seniloli scored the hosts' first try.

Tonga's full-back Vunga Lilo replied with a penalty on the stroke of half-time which meant Fiji held a slender 10-8 lead at the interval.

The visitors were back in front when right wing Telusa Veainu scored a converted try, shortly after the restart, but Volavola restored Fiji's lead with two further penalties.

Tonga scrum-half Sonatane Takulua then silenced the home crowd when he went over for his side's third try which replacement fly-half Kurt Morath converted..

Fiji finished stronger, however, and late tries from right wing Waisea Nayacalevu and Ravai secured victory. 

The scorers:

For Fiji:
Tries: Seniloli, Nayacalevu, Ravai
Cons: Volavola 3
Pens: Volavola 3

For Tonga:
Tries: Vainikolo, Veainu, Takulua
Cons: Lilo, Morath
Pen: Lilo

Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Vereniki Goneva (c), 12 Lepani Botia, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Henry Seniloli, 8 Masi Matadigo, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Talemaitoga Tuapati, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Taniela Koroi, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Peceli Yato, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Metuisela Talebula.

Tonga: 15 Vunga Lilo, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Alipate Fatafehi, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Latiume Fosita, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Nili Latu (c), 6 Hale T Pole, 5 Tukulua Lokotui, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Sosefo Sakalia, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Joe Tu'ineau, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Kurt Morath, 23 Otulea Katoa.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

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