Defence the key as Samoa hold on to defeat Tonga

Frank Pritchard

Defence wins games and that was the case for Samoa, after a try-saving tackle from Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano sealed a narrow 18-16 win in a scintillating clash.

The second of two Pacific Tests at Cbus Super Stadium, the match produced the goods as the lower-ranked Tongan side pushed the Samoans all the way.

Some interesting late changes saw Josh McGuire at hooker for Samoa and Mahe Fonua at five-eighth, though the spectacle was not affected.

The Samoans dominated throughout and made the most of early opportunity, keeping the Tongans on their toes.

There was a period of sustained possession for the Tongans when they scored two quick tries and it looked like they might produce a comeback.

Though such hope was short-lived after a Samoan try to Dominique Peyroux.

There was a blow for Samoa despite their win, though, with both Tim Simona and Ben Murdoch-Masila departing the field with ankle and leg injuries respectively.

Knowing how crucial it is to retain the Tongan players in the core of the team for the long-run, coach Kristian Woolf praised Sio Siua Taukeiaho for his performance.

“I took him to PNG last year with the Tongan side and he was a young bloke I didn’t know a lot about,” said Woolf.

“He was tremendous for us over there and I thought he was probably close to the best player on the paddock for both teams. He’s certainly got a big NRL future ahead of him and I hope he’s got a really long future with Tonga as well because he’s a good player.”

Much like the Fijians and Papua New Guineans, Tongans and Samoans both adore the game of rugby league and the players know how much the fans love the game and want to see more out of every aspect.

“Both fans are very passionate and vocal and we carry a lot, for our family and our nations back home,” said Samoan captain Frank Pritchard.

“We play with a lot of expectations and we’re big on honesty and family and respect and we come away from that game with our head held high.”

Samoa 18 (Josh McGuire, Daniel Vidot, Frank Pritchard, Dominique Peyroux tries; Tim Simona goal) def. Tonga 16 (Jorge Taufua 2, Sika Manu tries; Solomone Kata 2 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Half-time: Samoa 10-4. Crowd: 12,336.

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