Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Tonga ends WCup campaign with a win

Tonga ended its 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign with an impressive 45-24 win over Romania in its last Pool B as a farewell gift to the retiring coach Toutai Kefu with a seven-try victory.

Five minutes past the clock and Romania received a penalty but flyhalf Alin Conache failed with the attempt.

Tonga dominated initially and Kata got the first try in the 11 minute after the exceptional Charles Piutau brilliantly offloaded while flat on the turf and William Havili converted for a 7-0 lead.

Three minutes later, former All Blacks centre George Moala, making his first tournament appearance after a five-game ban for a tip tackle, got the second for Tonga and Havili converted, making it a 14-0 lead.

Romania received their second penalty in the match and this time Conache kicked in between the sticks for 3 points however, Tonga responded again with their third try when Afusipa Taumoepeau jogged his way to the try line.

Havili slotted the conversion for a 21-3 lead in the 22nd minute.

It was Cristi Boboc, who fought hard against the heavy Tonga defence and rushed his way under the post to score the first try for Romania after 30 minutes and Conache converted for their full 10 points.

Tonga was reduced to 14 men when lock Leva Fifita was sin-binned for smashing his shoulder into the head of Romanian flanker Florian Rosu, but he escaped a red after a TMO review.

Romania took advantage with a terrific maul to enable 38-year-old scrumhalf Florin Surugiu, in his 104th and final international, to slip off the back for their second try.

Conache converted, yet they trailed by 21-17 at the break.

The Tongans regrouped and gave a harsh response scoring two back-to-back tries through Pita Ahki and Kata grabbed his second in the match but Havili converted once for a 40-24 lead.

A 70th-minute yellow card for Conache and a tiring defence suddenly started presenting Tonga with acres of space and replacement Kyren Taumoefolau showed great pace to squeeze in for the seventh try to seal the win.

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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