Fiji power past Tonga
August 13, 2011
Winger Vereniki Goneva crossed for Fiji's first try at Churchill Park © Getty Images
Fiji claimed a morale-boosting 27-12 victory over Tonga in their Rugby World Cup warm-up clash at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday.
First half tries from Vereniki Goneva, Rupeni Nasiga and Kini Murimurivalu and 12 points from the boot of fly-half Seremaia Bai powered the hosts to victory in the first of a two-Test series with the win also serving as revenge for the 45-21 mauling they suffered at the hands of their local rivals in the Pacific Nations Cup last month.
Rising star Viliami Iongi grabbed two tries for Tonga to underline his World Cup credentials but it was not enough to propel his side to victory and they must now overturn a 15-point deficit in the return clash next weekend.
Fiji pounced on an error from the visitors to set up the opening the score for Goneva in the third minute but Tonga soon hit back with a well-worked try of their own through fullback Viliami Iongi. Back came Fiji with Vitori Buatava setting up Nasiga for their second try that was converted by Bai.
The hosts extended their advantage before the break when Murimurivalu carved his way through the Tongan defence to notch a try that was again converted by Bai to give Fiji a 21-5 lead at the break.
Tonga rallied at the start of the second half with rising star Iongi grabbing his second try just a minute after the restart. Samisoni Fisilau landed the sideline conversion to raise hopes of a comeback but despite maintaining their efforts, two penalties from Bai snuffed out their challenge.
Flying Fijians skipper Deacon Manu hailed his side's work on the training field following their victory. "The preparation for this game and the World Cup in general has been pretty intense and I can say this win is merely because of that," he told Fijilive.com. "We were focused on a lot of things to improve on in this game, especially our scrum and defence and I am pretty happy with it."
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