Tonga too slick for Japan

Date published: August 3 2015

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Tonga recorded a 31-20 victory over Japan in their fixture at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby to secure third spot in this year's Pacific Nations Cup.

In an impressive showing, the Tongans scored three tries to Japan's one as scrum-half Sonatane Takulua stood out alongside number ten Kurt Morath.

Takulua was one of those scorers as he added the late gloss to prop Halani Aulika and Fetu'u Vainikolo's five-pointers. Morath kicked 16 points.

In reply back-row Hendrik Tui crossed for Japan, who could not keep the dangerous Tongan runners at bay. They end the tournament in fourth place.

Japan were leading 3-6 thanks to two penalties from full-back Ayumu Goromaru but tighthead prop Aulika crashed over on 30 minutes to push Tonga 10-6 up.

Eddie Jones' men responded soon after though when back-row Tui ran over from 15 metres out to cap a passage started by wing Karne Hesketh.

Morath slotted two further penalties before the break though which meant Tonga were 16-11 to the good at the interval and deserving of their advantage.

Japan returned in strong form and when Goromaru struck two early penalties, they were back in front by one point.

However, Morath then sent over wing Vainikolo to make it 21-17 before the two kickers traded a penalty apiece. Japan were then reduced to 14 men when replacement Hayden Hopgood pulled down a Tongan line-out jumper.

That scuppered Japan's hopes and when Takulua slipped over in the 79th minute, the result was sealed for the Tongans.

The scorers:

For Tonga:
Tries: Aulika, Vainikolo, Takulua
Cons: Morath 2
Pens: Morath 4

For Japan:
Try: Tui
Pens: Goromaru 5
Yellow card: Hopgood

Tonga: 15 Vunga Lilo, 14 'Otulea Katoa, 13 Sione Puikala, 12 Viliami Tahitu'a, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Hale T-Pole, 7 Nili Latu (c), 6 Jack Ram, 5 Uili Kolo'ofa'i, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 Kalafi Pongi, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Sosefo Sakalia, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 Wayne Ngaluafe, 22 Martin Naufahu, 23 Latiume Fosita.

Japan: 15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Karne Hesketh, 13 Kotaro Matsushima, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Yoshikazu Fujita, 10 Kosei Ono, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Michael Leitch (c), 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Shoji Ito, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Hisateru Hirashima, 17 Hiroki Yuhara, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Hayden Hopgood, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 Atsushi Hiwasa, 22 Craig Wing, 23 Tim Bennetts.

Referee: Angus Gardner

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