Tonga qualify for 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan after Fiji beat Samoa

Super Rugby: Loni Uhila put this huge hit on Jordan
Taufua to force the turnover and penalty.

Nili Latu leads the Tongan pre-match challenge at
Eden Park.

TONGA qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after
Fiji beat Samoa 38-16 in the final match of the Pacific
Nations Cup on Saturday.

Samoa needed at least a bonus point to take the second
qualifying spot, but Fiji scored five tries to one to retain
the Pacific Nations Cup title and finish the two-year Oceania
qualifying series unbeaten.

Tonga completed the Rugby World Cup’s hardest looking pool,
beside England, France, Argentina, and the United States.

Fiji qualified last weekend after beating Tonga 14-10, and
slotted into Pool D at the World Cup with Australia, Wales,
Georgia, and an Americas qualifier, either Canada or Uruguay.

Samoa, which has competed in every Rugby World Cup since 1991,
can still make the next tournament in Japan.
It has a repechage against the winner of the Czech Republic or
Portugal versus the second placed team in the 2018 Rugby Europe
Championship.

That winner will go into World Cup Pool A.

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Nili Latu leads the Tongan pre-match challenge at Eden Park.

Nili Latu leads the Tongan
pre-match challenge at Eden Park.
Source:Getty Images

If Samoa fails to take that route, it will go into the
repechage.

Fiji’s fourth win in a row continued an outstanding run of form
in June and July internationals in which it accounted for
Scotland and Italy.

The Fijians took an early lead with the first try of scrumhalf
Henry Seniloli’s hat-trick, created by a pass from fly half Ben
Volavola which allowed an inside break from Akipusi Qera.

Seniloli was rewarded in all three tries for his outstanding
supporting play, staying on the shoulder of fullback Timoci
Nagusa to score his first.

Samoa equalised through captain David Lemi, playing his 50th
Test, when scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i caught Fiji napping with a
quick tap penalty.

Seniloli scored his second when winger Vereniki Goneva made a
powerful break down the right flank.

Ben Volavola of Fiji in action during the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Cardiff.

Ben Volavola of Fiji in action
during the 2015 Rugby World Cup in
Cardiff.
Source:Getty Images

Fly half Tusi Pisi missed his first two shots at goal but
kicked three in a row to give Samoa a 16-14 lead at halftime,
when it began raining.

Seniloli completed his hat-trick immediately after halftime,
finishing a move in which Nagusa was again prominent.

Centre Jale Vatubua ran off a pass from Nagusa and replacement
Api Ratuniyarawa crashed over from close range six minutes from
full-time.

Volavola kicked six goals from six attempts, converting all of
Fiji’s tries and a penalty from 55 metres.

“It was a great win and our bench was great and it showed in
the second half,” Fiji coach John McKee said.

“This is a talented group and we have some younger talent
emerging also. I believe this squad can improve further and our
aim will be to make the quarterfinals in 2019.”

Samoa coach Alama Ieremia speaks to the media at Spencer on Byron Hotel in Auckland.

Samoa coach Alama Ieremia
speaks to the media at Spencer on Byron Hotel in
Auckland.
Source:Getty Images

Samoa’s world ranking will fall to 16th on Monday, its lowest
since the rankings began in 2003.

“We have to play home and away against Europe 2 in the next
stage of qualification,” Samoa coach Alama Ieremia said.

“Some say it is a silver lining as we may end up in an easier
pool, but to be honest that is little consolation tonight.”

2019 Rugby World Cup pools in Japan

Pool A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1, Playoff
winner

Pool B: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1,
Repechage winner

Pool C: England, France, Argentina, United States, Tonga

Pool D: Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji, Americas 2

Originally published as
Tonga book World Cup spot as Samoa slip up

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