Talebula doubles gives Fiji win over Tonga
LAUTOKA, Fiji (AP) -Fiji fullback Metuisela Talebula scored two tries and winger Maikeli Mocetadra grabbed a try on debut as the hosts beat Tonga 29-17 on Saturday to clinch second place in rugby's Pacific Nations Cup.
Samoa had already won the four-nation tournament with an unbeaten record before Fiji and Tonga clashed at Churchill Park. But the match was still vigorously contested.
Talebula scored his first try in the 19th minute after a length of the field break sparked by Simeli Koniferedi. The conversion by Jonetani Ralulu gave Fiji a 7-0 lead.
That lead was overturned when Tonga flyhalf Kurt Morath converted three penalties in ten minutes, giving the visitors a 9-7 lead at the break.
Veteran winger Alaska Taufa scored wide out in the 43rd minute and Morath was unable to land the conversion, leaving Tonga 14-7 in front.
Fiji began to play more consistently from that point and tied the scores when Seremaia Ureure scored a brilliant try in the 47th minute. He took the ball near the 22 meter line, put his head down and drove through the defense, dragging several Tonga defenders to the goalline before planting the ball. Ralulu added the conversion to tie the game.
Morath added a further penalty to give Tonga a 17-14 lead before Talebula's second try put Fiji ahead for the final time. He scythed through the defense to score, finally stepping around Tonga fullback Viliame Iongi.
Mocetadra clinched the win with a debut try, brilliantly set up by Nikola Matawalu and converted by Talebula who also added a late penalty.
Fiji 29 (Metuisela Talebula 2, Seremaia Ureure, Maikeli Mocetardra tries; Jonetani Ralulu 2 conversions; Metuisela Talebula conversion, penalty), Tonga 17 (Alaska Taufa try; Kurt Morath 4 penalties). HT: 7-9.