Samoa, Tonga name teams for decisive World Cup qualifier

By RNZ.co.nz. It’s republished with permission

Samoa and Tonga have finalised their line-ups for tomorrow’s decisive Rugby World Cup qualifying match in Hamilton.

The Manu beat Tonga 42-13 in Auckland last weekend, with the aggregate winner over two legs sealing a spot at the 2023 World Cup in France.

Samoa have named an unchanged forward pack, with Jonathan Taumateine coming in at halfback in place of Auvasa Faleali’i and Ed Fidow promoted from the bench to start on the right wing. That means Tomasi Alosio shifts to his preferred fullback slot in place of Ahsee Tuala.

The ‘Ikale Tahi have made two changes in the tight five, with Siua Maile replacing Sam Moli at hooker and Harrison Mataele in at lock for the injured Zane Kapeli. Former Chiefs number eight Maama Vaipulu will provide cover for the second row and loose forwards off the bench.

In the backs, James Faiva is fit again and starts at first five after being a late scratching from the first test. That forces another reshuffle, with Kalione Hala returned to fullback and Nafi Tu’itavake dropping to the reserves.

Both teams are also in line to cap some more test rugby debutants at FMG Stadium.

Grammar Tech hooker Jay Fonokalafi and North Harbour scrumhalf Aisea Halo have been named on the Tongan bench, while Bay of Plenty wing Losi Filipo is among the reserves for Samoa.

The winner of the two-legged Oceania 1 playoff will join England, Japan and Argentina in Rugby World Cup Pool D. The loser will face the Cook Islands in Auckland next weekend for the right to keep their qualification hopes alive.

Samoa squad:

1.Tietie Tuimauga, 2. Ray Niuia, 3. Michael Alaalatoa (c) , 4. Benjamin Nee-Nee, 5. Samuel Slade, 6. Olajuwon Noa, 7. Alamanda Motuga, 8. Henry Time-Stowers, 9. Jonathan Taumateine, 10. Rodney Iona, 11. Neria Fomai, 12. Henry Taefu, 13. Stacey Ili, 14. Ed Fidow, 15. Tomasi Alosio. Reserves: 16. Seilala Lam, 17. Jonah Aoina, 18. Kalolo Tuiloma, 19. Theo McFarland, 20. Jack Lam, 21. Dwayne Polataivao, 22. D’angelo Leuila, 23. Losi Filipo*.

Tonga squad:

1. Jethro Felemi, 2. Siua Maile, 3. Sila Puafisi, 4. Don Lolo, 5. Harrison Mataele, 6. Sione Tu’ipolotu, 7. Mateaki Kafatolu, 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Sonatane Takulua (c), 10. James Faiva, 11. Hosea Saumaki 12. Nikolai Foliaki, 13.Fine Inisi, 14. Penikolo Latu, 15. Kalione Hala. Reserves: 16. Jay Fonokalafi*, 17. Duke Nginingini, 18. Ben Tameifuna, 19. Maama Vaipulu, 20. Viliami Taulani, 21. Aisea Halo*, 22. Nafi Tu’itavake, 23. Walter Fifita.

*on debut

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