Upolu Samoa kicked off the defence of their IRB Pacific Rugby Cup title with a 20-12 win over Tau’uta Reds at the Teufaiva Stadium in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa on Saturday in a repeat of the 2007 final at the same venue.
On that occasion Upolu Samoa ran out 35-15 winners to succeed Savai’i Samoa as champions, but in fair conditions they had to come from behind to taste victory after captain and number 8 Afele Tongia had opened the scoring for the Tau’uta Reds in the 12th minute with a try converted by full back Mesui Lemoto.
Roger Warren kicked a drop goal for the defending champions in the 22nd minute before they took the lead late in the first half with a try from centre Gasolo Salima which was converted by the fly half.
Salima’s try came within a minute of Reds try scorer Tongia being sent to the sin-bin and Upolu Samoa went in leading 10-7 at the interval.
Upolu Samoa stretched that advantage to 10 points with a try from wing Timoteo Iosua within seven minutes of the restart, but the home side quickly hit back with a second score from Tongia.
A penalty by Warren on the hour mark put the Samoan side ahead by more than a converted try and although this proved to be the final score of the match, both sides finished with 14 men after Tongia saw red in the 68th minute and then Upolu scrum half Notise Tauafao was sin-binned two minutes from time. TAU'UTA REDS:
1. ‘Otulea Fifita (Sateki Mata’u) 2. ‘Atelea Hu’akau 3. Siua Halanukonuka 4. Kelepi Halafihi (Tavalea Takai) 5. Sione Timani (18. ‘Isileli Fine) 6. ‘Atunaisa Sikalu 7. Sekona Fonua 8. ‘Afele Tongia (capt)(yellow card, red card) 9. ‘Enele Taufa (Sikalele ‘Ahoafi) 10. Lata’imuli ‘Anitoni 11. Fou-Ki-Moana Katoa 12. Sione Masima 13. ‘Ofa Takai 14. Tupou Palu 15. Mesui Lemoto (Salesi Havili). Not used:
Poasi Fonua; aia Taufalele. Tries:
Tongia (2); Conversions:
Leomto UPOLU SAMOA:
1. Paula Lewer (Mulifusi Ulima) 2. Muliufi Salanoa (capt) 3. Taligatuli Moala 4. Olaifale Pipili 5. Tui Fitiao 6. Simaika Mikaele 7. Alapasa Cortz 8. Filipo Levi 9. Notise Tauafao (yellow card) 10. Rogger Warren 11. Pulemalie Sopo 12. Samasoni Moala 13. Gasolo Salima 14. Timoteo Iosua 15. Lolo Lui. Not used:
16. Andrew Viliamu 18. Ruperake Petaia 19. Sirovai Sila 20. Dominic Gabriel 21. Tuugasala Sione 22. Joyner Key. Tries:
Salima, Iosua; Conversions:
Roger Warren (2); Penalties:
Roger Warren; Drop goal:
Roger Warren IRB
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