An epic clash between the Manu Samoa and ‘Ikale Tahi is set to take place this Saturday 5th August at Apia Park Stadium in Samoa. With both teams coming off hard-fought losses last week, they’ll be determined to put in a good performance against their Pacific brothers this weekend. This match will mark a proud moment for the Moana Pasifika franchise as they watch a large majority of their players take the field for their nation. A battle of teammates turned foes, the friendly rivalry will without a doubt bring the best out of the men on field, which is promising to be yet another spectacle of Pasifika rugby at its finest.
In the last two weeks of competition, the Manu Samoa have gone to battle against Japan and Fiji in two games that have gotten Samoan fans excited for their World Cup campaign. In both games, it is fair to say that the Manu haven’t played to their full potential but will be looking to turn it around as they face their Tongan brothers this Saturday. Head Coach Seilala Mapusua has gone in a different direction for his match day squad, switching players around and bringing in some big names that have been preparing for their opportunity behind the scenes.
A formidable trio of Charlie Faumuina, Sama Malolo and Michael Alaalatoa combine to form the Manu Samoa front row. Arguably Samoa’s best player last week against Fiji, Malolo finds himself between two veterans, and will no doubt be looking to continue his form in his second Manu Samoa test match.
Making his starting debut for Manu Samoa is Moana Pasifika’s very own Miracle Faiilagi. A proud moment for the franchise, Faiilagi has been in exceptional form this season and is no stranger to putting on a performance at Apia Park Stadium.
Joining him in the back three is the established duo of Jack Lam and Steven Luatua. Moving from the side of the scrum to the back, Luatua’s composure and agility will be a huge asset for his nation.
Back in the starting role is halfback Jonathan Taumateine. Returning to the field after an extremely solid outing in Osaka, Japan, Taumateine finds himself partnering with a familiar face at fly-half in the form of Moana Pasifika’s Alai D’Angelo Leuila. The six foot, 100kg number 10 combines a brilliant kicking game with what is potentially the best ball running game of a first-five in the world.
At fullback is the household name of Tim Nanai-Williams. With 84 appearances for the Chiefs and 16 for the Manu Samoa, Nanai-Williams is a dangerman at the back that’ll be looking to bring out his signature running game this Saturday.
Three of Moana Pasifika’s men are set to come off the bench in Luteru Tolai, Christian Lealiifano and Neria Foma’i.
Manu Samoa Lineup
Despite two losses in as many weeks, the ‘Ikale Tahi have been showing signs of being one of their best squads in their teams’ history. Stacked with international, Super Rugby and overseas experience, Tonga’s National team are picking up momentum as they form strong combinations within their squad.
Coming into the starting lineup is Moana Pasifika’s newest Sione Havili Talitui. Joining a powerhouse duo of blindside Tanginoa Halaifonua and number eight Vaea Fifita, Havili Talitui is set to make his 8th appearance for the ‘Ikale Tahi and will be looking to bring his Championship calibre from one red jersey to another.
William Havili returns to the starting lineup in the number 10 jersey, last playing in Tonga’s win against Australia A three weeks ago. Looking very comfortable in the pivot position, Havili has a monstrous midfield combination outside of him in Pita Ahki and George Moala.
At full back for the fourth week running is Salesi Piutau, who has been Tonga’s best performer. The most dangerous man on the park every time he steps on the field, the former All Black will be a key man Manu Samoa will need to shut down this weekend.
Coming off the bench is Moana Pasifika’s Tau Koloamatangi, Solomone Funaki, and Manu Paea. The trio will be a huge factor in bringing the impact in the second half, as this game will without a doubt be a highly contested affair that may come down to its last minutes.
‘Ikale Tahi Lineup
FLYING FIJIANS v JAPAN
The Flying Fijians are in red hot form as they look to continue their undefeated streak for 2023. Despite putting up different lineups in back-to-back weeks, the Fijian forward pack has been outstanding regardless of who takes the field. Absolutely dominating set piece and winning the physical battle up front, the forwards have provided a brilliant platform for the Fijian fire power out wide, allowing the likes of Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova and Kalaveti Ravouvou to shine. Once again putting up a new look gameday squad, look for this Fijian side to continue their form this week in Japan.
Saturday 5th August, 10:15pm NZT
Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, Japan
Flying Fijian Lineup
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