The first of the July internationals kicked off last Friday evening from Teufaiva Stadium in Tonga. A highly anticipated matchup between Tonga and Australia A promised to be an exciting affair with both teams stacked with international experience. Featuring in the starting ‘Ikale Tahi fifteen were four men from Moana Pasifika Samiuela Moli, Solomone Funaki, William Havili and Fine Inisi. Also featuring as impact from Moana Pasifika were Tau Koloamatangi, Manu Paea and U20 member and debutant Kyren Taumoefolau.
After an impressive opening 40 that saw the ‘Ikale Tahi take a commanding 24-0 lead, the home team would hold on to claim a 27-21 win over a formidable Australia A outfit. The Moana Pasifika men stood out in a performance that saw the ‘Ikale Tahi playing a beautiful brand of Pasifika rugby. Fine Inisi and Solomone Funaki also crossed over the line for two well worked tries. With many questioning whether the Tongan side could live up to its potential on paper, last Saturday’s performance showcased they were indeed capable of that and much more.
In a weekend that will feature all three Pacific nations taking the field, this Saturday Tonga will be looking to emulate their performance against Australia A as they travel to Lautoka to face Fiji at Churchill Park. In what promises to be a showcase of Pacific Rugby at its very best, the two nations meet for the first time since 2022’s Pacific Nations Cup where Fiji walked away a dominant 36-0 win.
Starting their campaign for 2023, the Flying Fijians will welcome a physical battle with their Tongan brothers at home. Fielding a team with a wealth of Super Rugby experience, their 39-man squad features 18 players from the Fijian Drua. The Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinalists showed the power of a Fijian home game, and there is no doubt that the local fans will be out in their thousands to support their national team.
Watch ‘Ikale Tahi v Fiji this Saturday 22 July
3pm Kick off NZT
Watch on Sky Sport
Lautoka Stadium, Fiji.
Also starting their campaign this Saturday is the Manu Samoa who travel to Hokkaido, Japan. Featuring 13 Moana Pasifika men, the Manu are in the guidance of defence coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga, who will be taking over as Moana Pasifika’s Head Coach in 2024. Coming off a strong 2022 going undefeated against Tonga, Fiji and Australia A, the Manu will be determined to replicate their form this year as they head into the World Cup.
Watch Manu Samoa v Japan this Saturday 22 July
Watch on Sky Sport Select & TVNZ+
Saporro Dome, Hokkaido, Japan
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