Warriors lose to Chiefs
10 March, 2011
As the six month countdown to Rugby World Cup 2011 was reached on Wednesday, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga continued their preparations with a second round of matches for their A sides against New Zealand Super Rugby franchises in the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2011.
The three matches did not yield a victory for the Pacific Island sides, but the margins of defeat narrowed from last Friday with Samoa A coming closest to breaking that duck, leading the Crusader Knights late on before ultimately falling 22-21 in Timaru.
The losing bonus point takes Samoa A out on their own at the top of the standings with 10 points, one more than Fiji Warriors who fell 25-10 to the Chiefs Development team with Tonga A on six points still after losing 41-10 to the Hurricanes Development outfit. HURRICANES DEVELOPMENT 41-10 TONGA A
Tonga A may have slipped to a second defeat on New Zealand soil, but the outing against the Hurricanes Development team gave them a chance to have a closer look at the Hutt Recreation Ground which will be one of their training venues at Rugby World Cup 2011.
The Tongans will use the Wellington venue in the build up to their final Pool A match against France on 1 October, and national coach Isitolo Maka is delighted by the challenges this Pacific Rugby Cup competition is posing for his players.
"The tournament is really good and we are enjoying it so far," insisted Maka. "It is also good to play against different competition and these guys are at a different level, which is good for us."
The Hurricanes Development team, who had beaten Samoa A 33-0 last Saturday, opened the scoring in the 17th minute when wing Joelin Rapana touched down and by half time that advantage had grown to 19-3 with a penalty try and score by full back Jason Woodward.
The score remained that way until the hour mark, Sione Fonua having missed an opportunity to cut the deficit with a missed penalty, but three tries in seven minutes through wing James So'oialo and replacements Motu Matu'u and Api Naikatini put the match beyond doubt.
Tonga A did manage to cross the Hurricanes Development try-line six minutes from time through centre Charles Mateo, but the home side had the final say with replacement Greg Lealofi touching down for their seventh try of the evening. Full reports for the other matches will follow.
The New Zealand Series will climax on Monday, 14 March, when the Hurricanes Development team face the Fiji Warriors at Poirura Park, the Crusader Knights tackle Tonga A at Lincoln University and the Chiefs Development meet Samoa A in Pukekohe.
The IRB Pacific Rugby Cup will then draw to a conclusion in Fiji with the three Pacific Island sides coming together for a round robin to ultimately crown the 2011 champions, before the trio look forward to the IRB Pacific Nations Cup in Japan in July and then RWC 2011. Article courtesy of irb.com.