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An early yellow card to their loose head prop wasn’t enough to stop Tonga putting the first points on the board courtesy of a pure team try which saw Inisi cross the line following a 95metre team drive Tuesday.
The young Samoan outfit tried to spread the ball in order to break through the Tongan defense often in the first half and moments after a break in play at the 22min mark their determination paid off when Ah See crossed and Falaniko converted to take the lead 7-5.
With Samoa looking set to head into the break with the lead Tonga took advantage of a penalty in front of the goals to lead 7-8 at half time.
The tight contest continued early the 2nd half before Tonga’s Hateni converted another penalty to take their 1 point half time lead to 4 points.
Samoa spent much of the second half with possession but were unable to capitalise until Fomai crossed to steal the lead back for the young Manu’s 12-11 with less than 4 minutes on the clock left.
The late surge wasn’t enough however and Tonga had an answer in the way of a Uasi try in the dying seconds to see the visitors victorious in round 1.
Samoa Captain Simon Toleafoa said the team will go back to the drawing board to come back strong on Game 2 of the Trophy.
“We were good in small patches but it just came down to the lower areas and points to goals that we could have got.
“We will spread ourselves come Saturday to keep them tight.
“Also thank you for the fans for coming out today and sorry we didn’t get the result but come Saturday we will work hard to get the win,” Toleafoa said.
Tongan Captain Pita Halaifonua was elated with the team’s win today.
“First of all I would like to thank the Heavenly Father for our win today," he said.
“My team and I are so happy for this win and are also very grateful to the Samoan team for their effort today.
“For the last match; come Saturday we want to play even harder and do our best in the final round.
“I would also like to thank all our Tongan supporters here in Apia and all those at home especially for our friends and family members – for their prayers for us and for their continuous support,” Halaifonua added.
SAMOA 12 (Tries: Pupi AH SEE, Fomai FOMAI; Conversions: Moo Moo FALANIKO)
TONGA 16 (Tries: Lotu INISI, Malakai UASI; Penalty Goal: Lisiate FOLAU, Hateni TAFOLO; Yellow Card: Sosaia FALE)
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