Tautahi Gold survived a late fight back from 2006 champions Savai’i Samoa to record a first victory over their opponents in the history of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup with a 27-17 triumph at Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku’alofa on Friday.
Savai’i Samoa had gone into the third round match unbeaten in this year’s competition against a Tautahi Gold side boosted by their victory in the all Tongan affair with Tau’uta Reds last weekend.
The home side opened the scoring as early as the third minute when their hooker Feki Moala scored a try from a rolling maul and this lead was doubled to 10-0 at the end of the first quarter when full back Setaleki Lu’au touched down.
Lu’au, who impressed by making several line breaks and showing his good kicking game, ended the first half in the sin-bin but Tautahi Gold went in leading 10-0 – a lead that was cut within minutes of the restart after centre Reupena Levasa’s try for Savai’i.
Tautahi Gold though bounced back with tries from Tonga captain Nili Latu- the result of another rolling maul – and La’ua to lead 24-5 with 20 minutes remaining after skipper Fangatapu Apikotoa converted both scores.
The second try of the match for Lu’au secured a bonus point for Tautahi Gold, but it was flanker Latu who again stole the show with an impressive all round performance, strong at the breakdown and in defence as well as being dangerous in attack.
Savai’i Samoa were suddenly stung into action and although captain Egelani Fale and scrum half Gafa Siona crossed for tries the fight back came too late with Lu’au having the final say with a penalty to seal the victory that sends Tautahi Gold top of the table.
Tautahi Gold: 1. Makoni Finau 2. Feki Moala, 3. Soane Ledger 4. Taukolo Tu’akoi 5. Samiu Ika 6. Lisala Uasi 7. Nili Latu 8. Siope Poutele 9. Soane Havea 10. Fangatapu ‘Apikotoa (Captain) 11. Sione Lavaka 12. ‘Isileli M. Tupou 13. Semisi Motu’apuaka 14. Samisoni Pone 15. Setaleki Lu’au.
Replacements: 16. Va’inga Fangupo 17. Paula Polo 18. Matini Tupou 19. Kano Ewan Vaifo’ou 20. Vea Paunga 21. Leakona Tovi 22. Peni Tokotaha.
Tries: Feki Moala, Setaleki Lu’au (2), Nili Latu,
Conversions: Fangatapu ‘Apikotoa (2)
Penalty: Setaleki Lu’au
Yellow card: Setaleki Lu’au
Savai’i Samoa: 1. Hero Tea 2. Lafoga Aoelua 3. Rudy Leavasa 4. Tim Nelson 5. Luti Pese 6. Tele Ese 7. Alafoti Fa’osiliva 8. Egelani Fale (Captain) 9. Gafa Siona 10. Ki Anufe 11. Tupu Ulufale 12. Tauvaga Faafou 13. Reupena Levasa 14. Esera Lauina 15. Karl Siemesen.
Replacements: 16. Poutoa Iosi 17. Loleni Tafunai 18. Ponifasio Vasa 19. Keneti Tofilau 20. Ese Fale 21. Aaifou Faamausili 22. Junior Leota.
Tries: Reupena Levasa, Egelani Fale, Gafa Siona
Conversion: Karl Siemesen
The third round of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup continues with the unbeaten defending champions Upolu Samoa welcoming Fiji Warriors to Apia, while Fiji Barbarians and 2007 runners up Tau’uta Reds meet at Lawaqa Park with a first win in 2008 the prize.
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