Fiji Warriors began their defence of the World Rugby Pacific Challenge title with a hard-fought 29-17 win over Tonga A, despite playing most of the game with 14 players, before Japan XV surged to a 48-5 win over hosts Manuma Samoa at Apia Park in the opening round on Wednesday.

Both teams picked up try bonus points but it is Japan XV who sit on top of the standings one game into the three-round development competition courtesy of their superior points difference.

The top two sides will face each other in the second round on Monday, 15 April, again at Apia Park, while the other match pits Manuma Samoa against Tonga A.


Fiji Warriors overcame the loss of loose-head prop John Muller to a 23rd-minute red card as they began their title defence with a bonus-point win over Tonga A.

Tonga A led 9-5 at that point after two penalties and a drop goal from fly-half Patelesio Oneone to a try from Fiji Warriors hooker Patemo Nuku in reply.

Rather than let their heads drop, the dismissal of Muller galvanised the 10-times champions and they had the try bonus point in the bag after 54 minutes.

Sakiusa Vosayaco’s try on the half-hour mark ensured Fiji Warriors went into half-time with a narrow 12-9 advantage, while Nuku’s second and one from Sivaniolo Lumelume got them up to four tries.

Replacement Aisake Stani added a fifth with an hour gone as Fiji Warriors extended their lead to 29-12, Oneone having taken Tonga A into double figures with his third penalty of the match.

The score remained that way until Tonga A replacement forward, ‘Ofa Tapueleulu, crossed with time nearly up.


From the start, Japan had too much for Samoa, with hooker Kenshin Shimzu scoring the first try inside the first couple of minutes.

Manuma Samoa quickly responded with their only try by inside-centre Afoa Moleli. But after that, the Asian team dominated, piling on the points in the final quarter when they scored five of their eight tries.

Moleli’s opposite number, Takaya Motohashi, crossed for Japan XV’s second and worse was to come for Manuma Samoa when they finished the half not only trailing 12-5 but also down to 14 players following Joseph Silva’s yellow card.

Replacement hooker Kenji Sato crossed for the first of his two second-half tries – either side of Jingo Takenoshita’s score – before the openside could return.

Sato’s second was followed by tries for full-back Yoshitaka Yazaki and replacements Keito Aoki and Kotaro Okawa, as Japan XV sent out a powerful statement that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Photo credit: Oceania Rugby