Tonga down Fiji in Nations Cup opener

11th Aug 2011, 15:56

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Kurt Morath: Tonga's hero

Kurt Morath: Tonga's hero

Tonga pulled off a shock 45-21 victory over hosts Fiji in Saturday's opening game of 2011's IRB Pacific Nations Cup in Lautoka.

Tonga pulled off a shock 45-21 victory over hosts Fijii in the opening match of the Pacific Nations Cup in Lautoka.

The visitors' hero was their fly-half Kurt Morath, who contributed 20 points, via four penalties and four conversions.

The Fijians, who started the tournament as favourites, opened the scoring through a penalty in the third minute by veteran fly-half Nicky Little.

But Tonga struck back soon after, with a try by lock Samiu Vahafolau, which Morath converted.

Little succeeded with another penalty, and at 7-6, the Fijians were still in with a shout.

However, after that, Tonga took control of proceedings. Morath slotted three more penalties and he also converted a try by Alaska Taufa.

Fiji's only other points came through another penalty by Little, and at half-time Tonga held a commanding 23-9 lead.

Three minutes into the second half, Tonga extended their lead with a penalty try before Morath kicked another penalty, and with the score at 33-9 it looked like they had the match in the bag.

However, Fiji fought back with tries by Sekonai Kalou and Malukai Ravulo, to narrow the gap to 33-21.

Ravulo's try came when Tonga had 14 players on the field after their prop Alisona Taumalolo was yellow carded.

Taumalolo made up for that indiscretion with a try when he returned to the field, and Tonga sealed their win with another touchdown by Viliame Iongi.

Tonga's next match is against Japan and Fiji face Samoa in the second round of the competition next weekend.

The scorers:

For Tonga:
Tries: Vahafolau, Taufa, Iongi, Taumalolo, Penalty
Con: Morath 4
Pen: Morath 4

For Fiji:
Tries: Kalou, Ravulo
Con: Little
Pen: Little 3

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Viliami Helu, 13 Alaska Taufa, 12 Andrew Mailei, 11 Viliame Longi, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Samisoni Fisilau, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Samiu Vahafolau (c), 6 Lisiate Faaoso, 5 Tukulua Lokotui, 3 Kisi Palu, 4 Paino Hehea, 2 Ifalemi Taukafa, 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
Replacements:16 Semisi Telefoni, 17 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 18 Joe Tuneau, 19 Sione Vaiomounga, 20 Soane Havea, 21 Hudson Tonga'uiha and 22 Mateo Malupo.
Head Coach: Isitolo Maka.

Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Albert James Vulivuli, 12 Gabiriele Vododuadua Lovobalavu, 11 Timoci Nagusa, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Nemia Serelevu Ranuku, 8 Dominiko Maiwiriwiri Waqaniburotu, 7 Ratu Malakai Mana Ravulo, 6 Josefa Ulago Domolailai, 5 Tevita Gucake Naqaqa Cavubati, 4 Sekonaia Kalou, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Viliame Veikoso, 1 Graham Dewes.
Replacements: 16 Talemaitoga Dautu Tuapatu, 17 Ratu Penijamini N Makutu, 18 Leone Nakarawa, 19 Malakai Volau, 20 Vitori Tomu Buatava, 21 Waisea Sedre Luveniyali and 22 Adriu Delai.
Head Coach: Samu Domoni.