Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Historic win for Fiji while Samoa and Tonga open their RWC campaign

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

Round two of the Rugby World Cup saw the three pacific nations play in a round for the first time of the tournament. After not playing last week, both Samoa and Tonga finally opened their World Cup campaign, while Fiji played their second match against the Wallabies.


Manu Samoa took on pool opponents Chile, and came away with the 43-10 win despite a strong first half from Chile. 

With yellow cards to outside centre Ulupano Junior Seuteni and reserve half back Ereatara Enari, Samoa were able to bounce back in a massive second half to come out on top. 

Manu  led 19-10 at half-time thanks to four penalties by former Australia fly-half Christian Leali’ifano and a try through full-back Duncan Paia’aua.

Samoa scored three second-half tries, two coming from the driving maul and another through scrum-half Jonathan Taumateine. 

Christian Lealiifano of Manu Samoa. Photo: World Rugby

“I thought the first half we were a bit sloppy but in the second half the boys really showed up and we’re happy to come away with a win,” said Mastercard Player of the Match Theo McFarland.

“It’s always an honour to pull on the jersey for Samoa.”

“Great to get our campaign underway,” Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua said. 

“A lot to take from that game and we’ll be reviewing it. Full credit to Chile, they really took it to us today and put us under pressure and that’s exactly what we needed.”

Mapusua and his team will now prepare for their next match with Argentina, 


Also opening their World Cup campaign was Tonga’s ‘Ikale Tahi from. 

Placed in a tough pool, Tonga were faced first with world number one Ireland who were too good for ‘Ikale Tahi, blitzing through with an impressive 59-16 win. 

Despite the result, Tonga were humbled and honoured for their chance to represent their small nation on the international stage, especially for senior player Malakai Fekitoa.

“It’s very emotional. My whole family was in the stand. It’s pretty cool to be back and represent my country. Gave it everything on the field there and the score didn’t reflect the hard work we put in behind the scenes,” Fekitoa said.

“But we move on now and looking forward to Scotland now.” 

Ireland vs Tonga at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Photo: World Rugby

Driven on by fly-half Johnny Sexton, Ireland did a lot of the hard work during the first 40 minutes, scoring four tries to build up a 31-13 lead. 

The pick of the first half tries was a free-flowing team move finished off by Sexton himself, enough to take the 38-year-old past Ronan O’Gara as Ireland’s all-time record point scorer.  

“Ireland are the best in the world for a reason,” losing captain Ben Tameifuna said. 

“We have a lot of boys that have had their first game tonight at a World Cup and it’s an eye-opener to what it takes to be at this level.” 


Rounding off the pacific teams for the round were the Flying fijians, who pulled off a major upset by beating the Wallabies. Coming off a close loss to Wales, Fiji were keen to turn last week’s disappointment into victory. 

Fiji capitalised brilliantly on an ill-disciplined performance from Australia to grab their first win against them since 1954 and jump ahead of the Wallabies in the tightly contested Pool C.

Halfback Simione Kuruvoli was exceptional for Fiji landing five from five off the boot. Desperate efforts from Australia through try-scorers Mark Nawaqanitawase and Suli Vunivalu clawed Australia back into the game, but it was too little too late.

Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu leads the fiji war chant. Photo: World Rugby

Lone try scorer for Fiji and man of the match Josua Tuisova credited his team for an amazing performance after a tough loss to Wales.

“I just want to thank the boys for their hard work. They gave everything. I just said to them for the second half to empty the tank, give everything they have to try to win this game. We treated this game like a final.” he said.

Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu admitted his side had treated the game like a final, saying: “What I told the boys today, today is our final. Today will determine whether we want to go up to the quarters so the mindset was do or die, do our best, fight to the end and the result will take care of itself.”

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