Fiji Warriors remain on course to claim a third successive World Rugby Pacific Challenge title after beating Junior Japan 28-3 in the second round of matches on Tuesday.
The hosts, who beat Samoa A 33-21 last Friday, now sit atop the standings from Samoa A after their fellow Pacific Islanders bounced back from that loss to beat Tonga A 40-10.
The Pacific Challenge concludes on Saturday when Fiji Warriors tackle Tonga A and Samoa A meet Junior Japan.
A proven player development platform in the Pacific Islands and Asia, the World Rugby-funded tournament delivers a high-performance pathway for a core group of under-23 players from domestic to international rugby.
TONGA A 10-40 SAMOA A
Samoa A scored five unanswered tries to overcome an early deficit against their Tongan counterparts at ANZ Stadium to get their campaign back on track with an emphatic victory.
Some sizzling action from round two of the World Rugby Pacific Challenge. That offload 😮 pic.twitter.com/SisCPGmRlC— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) 13 March 2018
Tonga A had opened the scoring with winger Fetuli Paea's third-minute try, before Samoa A edged ahead when D'Angelo Leiulia converted Ricky Ene's try 10 minutes later. The Tongans responded quickly with another try by their other winger Tuhakavalu Ika to lead 10-7 after 17 minutes but that would be the last points they would score.
Winger Fa'asauvale Lucky and captain Henry Stowers both crossed to give Samoa A a 19-10 lead at half-time and they grabbed control of the match with two tries in six second-half minutes through Ene and hooker Gafa Sua.
The score remained 33-10 until the final minutes when scrum-half Iosua Faalele crossed to claim a bonus-point win that lifts Samoa A into second place in the standings, above Junior Japan on points difference.
"First of all to have a crowd as good as this we are so fortunate. Big up to the Tonga team, they were physical and fast but I thought we stuck to our game plan well. We went wide and had pace and power and were able to finish," said Samoa A captain Henry Stowers.
FIJI WARRIORS 28-3 JUNIOR JAPAN
The two winners from day one came together at ANZ Stadium with both looking for victory to enhance their title credentials, but it was seven-time champions Fiji Warriors who ultimately claimed the bonus-point win.
Full-back Inia Tawalo gave the home side the perfect start with a try after only five minutes, before Junior Japan fly-half Taichi Mano replied with a penalty.
A yellow card for prop Gakuto Ishida gave Fiji Warriors a man advantage and they didn't waste it, hooker Veremalua Vugakoto scoring the try that gave his side a 14-3 advantage at the break.
Two tries in as many minutes early in the second half ended any hopes of a Japanese fight-back, prop Luke Tagi and scrum-half Frank Lomani dotting down to the delight of the home crowd.
There would be no further scores, leaving Fiji Warriors atop the standings but not entirely happy with captain Mosese Voka admitting there as aspects to work on before their final match with Tonga A.
"It was a really good game for the boys, we needed to execute the game plan but while we didn't do some we managed to come good at the end. We need to improve on our weaknesses at the breakdown and the discipline, if we do that I think we will do well against Tonga. Tonga will always be a tough opponent but we need to just execute our game plan and set plays and I think we can beat them."
Photo credit: Kitione Rokomanu/Zoomfiji
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