Tonga player ratings: Feisty Vaea Fifita leads the charge in heavy World Cup defeat

Jared Wright
Tonga's Vaea Fifita catches the ball in a lineout during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Ireland and Tonga at the State de la Beaujoire in Nantes

Tonga's Vaea Fifita catches the ball in a lineout during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Ireland and Tonga at the State de la Beaujoire in Nantes.

Following their 59-16 loss to Ireland, here is how we rated the Tonga players in their Rugby World Cup match.

15 Charles Piutau: All his attacking brilliance to one side, his defence let him down today. He was almost anonymous for Johnny Sexton’s and Mack Hansen’s tries and conceded two penalties. He was successful on the counter and produced some great offloads, but not enough to worry Ireland too much. 5

14 Afusipa Taumoepeau: A few uncharacteristic errors, including a cold drop that almost resulted in a try had it not been for a Mack Hansen drop. Got some go-forward when he got his hands on the ball, but nothing that Ireland couldn’t handle. 5

Busy midfield

13 Malakai Fekitoa: He landed a massive hit on Hugo Keenan but missed plenty as the Irish attack found space on his outside and inside. Had little impact on attack. 4

12 Pita Ahki: Andy Farrell’s side did their utmost to limit his influence on defence, flooding his channel and getting him off his feet, and it worked. He made his tackles but wasn’t able to make much of an impact outside of his defensive efforts. 5

11 Solomone Kata: It just wasn’t his night. He got his charge down on James Lowe all wrong, and Ireland ruthlessly made the most of the chance. He also had a kick go out on the full and missed a couple of tackles. 4


10 William Havili: He struck the ball wonderfully off the tee, and while he defended his channel valiantly, Ireland were able to find gaps to run through as they just asked him too many questions he couldn’t answer. He did have some good moments with ball in hand. 6

9 Augustine Pulu: Had little luck around the fringes as Ireland kept a close eye on the threat he posed. He missed a few tackles while his passing and kicking was good enough. 5


8 Vaea Fifita: Picked up an early injury, but he shrugged it off to produce a starring performance in all facets of the game. The former All Black is a superstar, and he showed it in defence, on attack and at the set pieces, and he was rewarded with a try before half-time, which proved to be his side’s only try in the defeat. 8

7 Sione Talitui: Tonga’s top tackler as he worked his socks off to keep his side in the game. The former Crusaders man really put his hand on defence, and in the rucks. A solid shift. 7

6 Tanginoa Halaifonua: He got little purchase from his carries and missed a few tackles. Taken off early in the second half. 5

Tight five

5 Halaleva Fifita: The veteran lock failed to shore up Tonga’s lineout struggles but was another hard worker in the rucks and on defence. 6

4 Sam Lousi: Along with his Scarlets teammate Fifita, Lousi was up for the fight that Ireland posed. He was incredibly busy all around the park, lending his weight on defence, at the mauls and at the breakdowns. He won a turnover and showed off his slick handling. 7

3 Ben Tameifuna: The skipper on the night, Big Ben put in a solid shift in the scrums, made his hits and carried hard. Ireland did catch him out for a slow fold or two, but overall, Tameifuna was strong for his side. 6

2 Paula Ngauamo: Tonga’s lineout faltered tonight, and both Ngauaumo and Sam Moli must shoulder some of the blame for that. A busy game in the rucks with little other fuss to his game. 6

1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi: There is little to fault the loosehead prop on against Ireland. He held his own in the scrums and ticked all the boxes required of him with nothing to get overly excited about. 6

Replacements: Moli threw his weight around during his shift, and Tane Takulua gave Tonga a bit more direction. However, Ireland blew the scoreline up in the final quarter with four tries. 4

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