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Fiji beats Tonga 29-19 at Eden Park

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians took a close 29-19 win over Tonga in the Pasifika Challenge match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday.

The side made a sluggish start in the first half while their opponents started off well. The hardworking Ikale Tahi forward pack were at their best as captain Siale Piutau opened the scoreboard two minutes into the game.

A mistake by Tonga saw Fiji Airways Flying Fijians bounced back. Semi Radradra intercepted the ball and passed it to Josua Tuisova who ran straight to the try line. Both teams were locked 7-all.

Tonga extended its lead after a great maul which allowed Paula Nagauamo score their second try.

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians replied in style. After some quick hands from Frank Lomani, Leone Nakarawa and Levani Botia, winger Vereniki Goneva ran in for the try.

In the 38th minute Fiji took the lead for the first time in the match. Semi Kunatani scored in the corner. Fiji led 17-12 at the breather.

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians made a great start in the second spell with a try coming from skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu.

Sam Matavesi extended Fiji’s lead in the game before Tonga pulled one back to narrow the score.

Fiji beat Tonga 29-19 as they wrapped up its preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) in Japan. They face Australia in the first match on the 21st of next month.

Coach John McKee said he expected a tough battle against the Tongans and highlighted the areas the team did well and needs to improvement on.

 “We knew we were into physical encounter,” McKee said.

 “We worked very hard in our phase defence and at goal line defence at times,” he added.

McKee also took time and appreciated the efforts from the players after the win.

“I think the players also made some good individual tackling in the game.

“We need to brush up on few areas; when executing the ball which was evident in the first-half,” McKee added.

Captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu was happy with the win but said they need to work hard if they want to achieve their goal at the RWC tournament.

“I think we have progressed a lot and we have improved on and off the field as well.

“However, there are still things we need to improve on before the first game in Japan,” Waqaniburotu added.

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians arrive home this afternoon and gather on Tuesday for their final camp and for a Sayonara Gala Dinner at Sofitel, Denarau before departing for Japan on Friday.

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