Junior Manu Samoa defeat Junior Ikale Tahi to Secure Spot at World Rugby U20 Trophy 2024

"the youngsters played a physical and fast-paced brand of rugby, adding another chapter to a great rivalry between the two island nations"

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Source: Moana Pasifika Media. With the stakes high and a spot at the World Rugby U20s Trophy on the line, the Junior Manu Samoa rose to the occasion with a 40–14 win over Junior ‘Ikale Tahi in the Oceania U20s Challenge at North Harbour Stadium.

Coached by Mailo Potu Leavasa and supported by Assistant Coaches Mahonri Schwalger and Alesana Tuilagi – the youngsters played a physical and fast-paced brand of rugby, adding another chapter to a great rivalry between the two island nations.

Samoa earned a penalty goal to open the match, but Tonga’s physicality pushed them past the try line in the first five minutes.

Prop Harry Hanipale answered back, charging through for Samoa’s first try, which was the start of a dominant performance from the men in white and blue.

On the attack, Samoa’s Captain Wally Vesi made big moves, with his dazzling footwork leaving Tonga’s defence scrambling.

Winger Panaua Niulevaea found the left edge for Samoa’s second try off the back of some superb playmaking from Vesi.

And in the 30th minute, Vesi was rewarded for his great play by crossing the line for his own five points.

Tonga received a setback in the 50th minute when their winger, Fotofili Mahe, was yellow carded for his involvement in a scuffle. Samoa capitalised on this with an easy three points in front of the goal posts.

Tonga didn’t give up, desperate to make metres, they hustled but at times weren’t able to realise their full potential and lost the ball.

Samoa’s relentless defence throughout multiple phases prevented Tonga from making progress even as they hovered over their try line.

There was no denying the heart of Tonga as they continued to fight. Tutu’ila Taulava scored off the back of a good lineout and a determined effort in the rolling maul.

But in the end, Samoa came out on a mission and executed their opportunities.

Samoa’s Ravuama Seruvakula said, “It was a pretty tough game against Tonga. It was our last chance to get a spot in Scotland. It really means a lot to the boys.”

“Our mindset was to get the line speed up and to pressure the Tongan team. The Tongan team is a very good team.”

Seruvakula said that he wasn’t sure how his team would celebrate the win but he gave thanks to God for guiding them.

Tonga Captain Siasofi Tohi said, “It was really disappointing, I know the boys really wanted to win.”

“I’m just proud of the boys, even though we didn’t make it. I know for sure we’ll die for our country, that’s all we can give. Malo Aupito to our fans who came out today.”

The Junior Manu Samoa will travel to Scotland in July to compete at the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2024.

Tonga will take on Moana Pasifika in Round 3 on Wednesday, 6 March at 5:00pm local time.