7 Aug 2019

Sport: Tonga make changes for PNC final round

12:50 pm on 7 August 2019

Tonga's rugby coach Toutai Kefu has made six changes to the side that was thrashed by Japan 41-7 last week for Friday's match against Canada.

Tonga rugby coach Toutai Kefu.

Tonga rugby coach Toutai Kefu. Photo: Supplied/Tonga Rugby Union

The two sides meet in the last round of the Pacific Nations Cup in Lautoka.

Kefu has made four changes made to the forward pack which was soundly beaten in Osaka last week.

Paula Ngauamo and Siua Halanukonuka come into the front row and former Hurricane lock Sam Lousi returns from injury, forcing Sitiveni Mafi to move into the loose forwards.

Zane Kapeli will start at number eight instead of Maama Vaipulu, while James Faiva and Malietoa Hingano take their place in the backline at first five and centre respectively.

Captain Siale Piutau has shifted to second five with the experienced Cooper Vuna dropping to the bench.

Lock Sam Lousi returns from injury

Lock Sam Lousi returns from injury Photo: Tonga Rugby Union

Prop Latu Talakai has been brought into the squad.

Toutai Kefu said he hoped his side could finish their PNC campaign on a solid note as they looked towards a pre-World Cup clash against the New Zealand All Blacks next month.

Fijians expecting typical physicality from the Manu

Meanwhile the Flying Fijians coach John Mckee said he expected Saturday's match against Samoa in Suva to be an extremely physical encounter.

Both teams have suffered upset losses during the PNC, Fiji having gone down to a resurgent Japan and Samoa being pipped at the post by the USA Eagles via an injury time penalty last week.

However Mckee said he still expected the traditional Pacific rivalry to make for an exciting spectacle.

He said Samoa's direct style of attack would provide a big challenge this week.

"You know we are going to have to work very hard in our defensive systems to not give them easy gain-line and advantage to put us under pressure.

"And certainly, their defensive system is very well organised and they have very good connections across the park," Mckee said.

"So, we are going to have to work especially very hard in attack to retain the ball for a number of phases."

The USA take the ball up through the middle against Samoa in the second round of the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2019 at the ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji.

Manu Samoa players display some typically hard defence Photo: Oceania Rugby

Tongan team to play Canada:

Paea Fa'anunu, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Halanukonuka, Leva Fifita, Sam Lousi, Sitiveni Mafi, Fotu Lokotui, Zane Kapeli, Sonatane Takulua (vc), James Faiva, Viliami Lolohea, Siale Piutau (c), Malietoa Hingano, 'Atieli Pakalani, David Halaifonua.

Reserves: Elvis Taione, Latu Talakai, Ben Tameifuna, Sione Vailanu, Dan Faleafa, Leon Fukofuka, Latiume Fosita, Cooper Vuna.

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