Fiji beats Tonga 45-17 in Pacific Nations Cup
LAUTOKA, Fiji (AP) — Fiji center Nemani Nadolo scored a try among his 20 points as the hosts beat Tonga 45-17 on Saturday in its opening match of rugby’s Pacific Nations Cup.
Wingers Watisoni Votu and Sireli Bobo both scored two tries and backrower and captain Akapusi Qera scored another as Fiji piled on six tries to two in a comprehensive performance.
Fiji opened the match at a rapid pace with a penalty to Nadolo, then tries to Votu and Nadolo, both converted, to lead 17-0 after only 14 minutes. Though the play of both sides was affected by handling errors, often the product of jarring tackles, Fiji managed to score at more than a point per minute.
Tonga finally got onto the board with a penalty to Fangatapu Apikotoa in the 22nd minute and managed to find some defensive steel before Bobo added Fiji’s third try nine minutes from halftime.
Votu scored his second in the 12th minute of the second half to give Fiji a commanding 31-3 lead and a blowout seemed likely until Viliami Fihaki came off the bench to score tries for Tonga in the 24th and 26th minutes of the second half. Both were converted by Latiume Fosita, cutting the deficit to 31-17.
Fiji seemed in danger of letting its control of the match slip but it recovered its composure to finish with tries to Bobo and Qera in the 79th and 81st minutes. Nadolo supplemented his try with six conversions and a penalty.
Fiji joined Japan as a first-round winner after Japan’s 34-25 win last weekend over Canada. Tonga drew 18-18 win Samoa in its opening match and the United States is due to host Japan later Saturday.
Fiji 45 (Watisoni Votu 2, Sireli Bobo 2, Nemani Nadolo, Akapusi Qera tries; Nemani Nadolo 6 conversions, penalty), Tonga 17 (Viliami Fihaki 2 tries; Latiume Fosita 2 conversions; Fangatapu Apikotoa penalty). HT: 24-3.