The boot of Sonatane Takulua and a late try by Dan Faleafa sealed an upset 27-19 win for Tonga over Pacific Nations Cup champions Fiji in Lautoka on Saturday.

The match settled unfinished business between the two sides after they finished first and second without playing each other in the recent two-round Nations Cup tournament, also involving Samoa and Georgia.

Fiji coach John McKee had said his side could not consider themselves true champions unless they beat Tonga, and with 20 minutes remaining they led 19-14 and appeared on their way to victory.

But ill discipline proved costly as Takulua slotted two penalties, Fiji went down to 14-men when Vereniki Goneva was yellow carded and Faleafa crossed for his try. 

Tonga had set the early pace with a converted try to Agen hooker Paul Ngauamo, and Frank Lomani levelled for Fiji at 7-7 with a try just before half-time converted by Ben Volavola.

Immediately after the start of the second half, Tonga pulled away again when Castres lock Sitiveni Mafi scored.

Fiji eventually hit the front with tries in quick succession to Newcastle centre Goneva and lock Viliame Mata.

Goneva’s try saw him equal the long-standing Fiji record of 20 Test tries set by Sanivalati Laulau who retired 33 years ago.

But it also proved the catalyst for Tonga’s late 13-point charge to take the game. – Agence France-Presse

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