Samoa took control of the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2022 with victory against Tonga at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday.

The Samoans now lead the standings by three points from Australia A, who defeated Fiji in the second match of round two.

With one round of matches left to play in Fiji, we give you the lowdown on this year’s Pacific Nations Cup…

Round two

Samoa moved top of the 2022 Pacific Nations Cup standings following a bonus-point 34-18 win against Tonga in round two.

Seilala Mapusua’s side had to come from behind, however. Fetuli Paea and Veikoso Poloniati both crossed the whitewash, while James Faiva struck two early penalties and a conversion to give Tonga an 18-3 lead with less than 30 minutes on the clock.

The Samoan comeback started late in the first half, when Ray Niuia notched the first of his three tries, all of which came in 17 minutes either side of half-time. The third, scored while Poloniati was in the sin-bin, gave his side a slender 20-18 advantage.

Tumua Manu and Theo McFarland then each touched down in the final 20 minutes to add some gloss to the final result for Samoa.

Australia A recorded their first win of the tournament as they beat hosts Fiji 32-18 in the second match of the day at Churchill Park.

Hugh Sinclair scored the opening try of the match in the 13th minute, before Dylan Pietsch crossed to help give the Australians a 15-8 lead with 28 minutes gone.

Those tries had sandwiched a Seta Tamanivalu effort for the hosts and Levani Botia struck before half-time to cut Fiji’s deficit to two points at the break.

However, tries from Filipo Daugunu and Jeremy Williams – either side of an Api Ratuniyarawa score – strengthened Australia A’s grip on the contest and a late penalty from the boot of Ryan Lonergan, who also converted three of his side’s four tries, stretched the winning margin to 14 points.

Round One

The 2022 Pacific Nations Cup got under way at ANZ Stadium, where Samoa pulled off a last-gasp 31-26 victory against Australia A.

Samoa raced into a 19-7 lead within half an hour in Suva as Seilala Lam, Nigel Ah-Wong and D’Angelo Leuila all crossed the whitewash. However, the Australians scored two tries in four second-half minutes, through Ryan Lonergan and Fraser McReight, to level the scores.

Jonathan Taumateine and James Tuttle then traded converted tries to leave the score at 26-26 with less than four minutes to go. But that was enough time for Ah Wong to cross for the match-winning score for Samoa.

The second match of the tournament was a more one-sided affair as hosts Fiji beat Tonga 36-0 in Suva.

Fiji took control of the match early on as Tevita Ratuva, Olympic champion Jiuta Wainiqolo and Kalaveti Ravouvou each scored a try in the opening 25 minutes. Setareki Tuicuvu added a penalty late in the first half to make the score 22-0 at the break.

The hosts made sure of an impressive bonus-point victory in the second half as Tuicuvu and Vinaya Habosi ran in converted tries.

What is the Pacific Nations Cup?

The Pacific Nations Cup is a regional men’s international tournament that will return for the first time since 2019 when the 15th edition takes place in July.

Fiji and Tonga have competed in all 14 editions of the tournament to date, while Samoa have made 13 appearances, missing only the 2013 Pacific Nations Cup.

The inaugural tournament was held in 2006, when the three Pacific Island nations were joined by Japan and the Junior All Blacks.

That first Pacific Nations Cup was won by the team from New Zealand, and the Junior All Blacks subsequently added to that triumph the following year and then again in 2009.

In 2008, the New Zealand Māori appeared in place of the Junior All Blacks and took the title.

Australia A competed in the tournament in 2007 and 2008, finishing second on both occasions and the team will return to the Pacific Nations Cup for a third time next month.

Japan appeared in the first 10 editions of the Pacific Nations Cup, as well as the most recent tournament in 2019, while Canada and the USA have each competed in the event four times. Georgia took part in the 2018 edition, finishing third.

Who usually wins it?

Fiji are the most successful team in the competition’s history having claimed five Pacific Nations Cup titles, including a run of four in a row between 2015-18.

The Junior All Blacks claimed the crown on each of the three occasions the team competed in the tournament, in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Japan and Samoa each have three titles to their name. The countries shared the 2014 Pacific Nations Cup having finished top of their respective conferences.

The New Zealand Māori are the other team to have won the Pacific Nations Cup, emerging victorious in 2008, the only year they competed in it.

Tonga and Australia A will be aiming to win the tournament for the first time this year, and both have a previous best finish of second.

When and where will the remaining matches be played in 2022?

Fiji is hosting the Pacific Nations Cup 2022, with matches being played across three match-days at ANZ Stadium in Suva and Churchill Park in Lautoka.

The final two matches of the tournament will be played in Lautoka as Tonga take on Australia A at 12:00 local time (GMT+12) on Saturday, 16 July. The curtain will come down on the Pacific Nations Cup 2022 when the hosts line up against Samoa at 15:30

How can you watch it?

World Rugby will be streaming all Pacific Nations Cup 2022 matches. Fans (excluding those based in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand) can watch all six matches live for free.

Pacific Nations Cup 2022 fixtures (all kick-off times GMT+12)

2 July

Australia A 26-31 Samoa, ANZ Stadium, 13:00
Fiji 36-0 Tonga, ANZ Stadium, 15:30

9 July

Samoa 34-18 Tonga, Churchill Park, 12:00
Fiji 18-32 Australia A, Churchill Park, 15:30

16 July

Tonga v Australia A, Churchill Park, 12:00
Fiji v Samoa, Churchill Park, 15:30

How will teams score points?

Teams will score four competition points for a win and two for a draw. Bonus points are also on offer for teams that score four or more tries in a match or lose by seven points or fewer.

The team with the most competition points at the end of the three match-days will be crowned champions.

Does the Pacific Nations Cup have any significance for Rugby World Cup 2023?

Not directly but Tonga will use the tournament as preparation for their Asia/Pacific 1 play-off match on 23 July.

One week after the conclusion of the Pacific Nations Cup 2022, the ‘Ikale Tahi are scheduled to play the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship.

Whoever triumphs in that match will take their place in Pool B in France, alongside South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Europe 2.

The tournament is also useful preparation for both Fiji and Samoa as they prepare for RWC 2023, while the players representing Australia A will be keen to stake a claim for a place in Dave Rennie’s squad for the showpiece tournament.

Is there anything else we should know about it?

The Pacific Nations Cup will also boast an impressive line-up of experienced match officials, with Wayne Barnes, Jaco Peyper and Nic Berry among those set to take charge of fixtures in Fiji.

A full list of appointments can be found here.