Fiji end three year losing streak against Tonga

Fiji ended a three-year losing streak against Pacific neighbor Tonga when it won its opening match in rugby’s Pacific Nations Cup 36-22 on Saturday in the Tongan capital.

Ireland-based winger Timoci Nagusa scored two first-half tries as Fiji built a 19-8 lead by halftime, then weathered a strong revival by Tonga which cut its lead to 26-22 midway through the second half.

Prop Viliame Seuseu, Sunia Koto and rugby league convert Alipati Tani also scored tries for Fiji while fullback Dan Rawaqa overcame a shaky start to convert four of Fiji’s five tries and added a penalty. He finished with 11 points.

Rawaqa’s penalty in the 76th minute and a try by flyhalf Tani right on fulltime inflated Fiji’s winning margin.

Tonga scored the first try of the match after only two minutes, capitalizing on a defensive error by Rawaqa who also missed two early shots at goal. Nagusa tied the scores with his first try but Tonga pulled ahead again with a penalty eight minutes before halftime.

Seuseu’s try four minutes from the interval and Nagusa’s second just before the break gave Fiji breathing space.

Tonga cut the lead to 19-15 with its second try before Fiji pulled ahead again, 26-15, with a try to Koto, created by a turnover by flanker Samu Bola.

A penalty try from a collapsed scrum, which saw Fiji prop Graham Dewes sinbinned, brought Tonga back within four points at 26-22 before Rawaqa’s penalty and Tani’s last-gasp try.

The Cup also involves Japan, Samoa and a junior New Zealand team.

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