Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Tonga set their sights on Samoa after first-up win

AFP AND AP , MONTPELLIER, FRANCE

Tonga have set their sights on Samoa as they aim to become Pacific island kings at the World Cup.

The Tongan Sea Eagles clinched only their third-ever win at the World Cup with a 25-15 victory over the US in Pool A at the Stade de la Mosson on Wednesday.

Finau Maka scored a try 71 seconds into his debut for Tonga and the Pacific islanders outlasted the US to win an error-strewn but entertaining match.

They typically threw caution to the wind with an adventurous display and wrapped up the contest with spectacular tries from winger Joseph Vaka and replacement Viliami Vaki in the final quarter in searing temperatures.

Tonga's next assignment is a Sunday showdown with the Samoans here again in the battle of the big hits and the tantalizing prospect of taking an unbeaten run into their third match against group favorites South Africa in Lens on Sept. 22.

The Tongans put to bed their sequence of opening round losses at the tournament at the Americans' expense and have all the motivation they need to rattle the bones of their Samoan adversaries this weekend.

"One of our goals was to win our first game and that I hope is going to open a lot of doors," skipper Nili Latu said.

"There's no pressure on us, I think the pressure is on Samoa, they haven't had a win yet [they lost 59-7 to the Springboks last Sunday]." he said.

"So, for us, we are going away to work on a few little things but it was a script ending for us to come out on top and we still have a lot in the tank, so I've got a lot of confidence in my boys that we'll come round on Sunday [against Samoa]," Latu said.

Samoa were rankled by the refereeing of New Zealander Paul Honiss in their loss to South Africa in Paris last Saturday.

Star South Africa back row forward Schalk Burger was subsequently cited for his tackle on Samoan scrumhalf Junior Poluleuligaga and was banned for four matches.

Latu said it was a great achievement for Tonga to beat the Eagles.

"If you looked at the Tongan record in the past we haven't won our opening match, so for us to win today was a great achievement," Latu said.

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