Samoa v Tonga in Apia
Venue: Apia Park
Referee: Peter FitzGibbon (Ireland)
The first of the Pacific Nations cup matches in Apia begins today. Host nation Samoa plays the visiting Tongan side. Both side will be flexing their muscles and preparing for next years Rugby World Cup. As usual both teams are without a number of their top overseas-based players so the opportunity is there for younger players to establish themselves before next years event.
Both sides have been able to call upon some of their overseas-based players including London Wasps' David Lemi and London Irish's George Stowers for Samoa. Traditionally Samoa has had the edge over their Pacific Island neighbours. The one famous exception was Tonga's magnificient win in the 2007 Rugby World Cup after suffering a mauling from Samoa earlier in the year. Expect some big hits!
Last Five Encounters
23.06.2009 Samoa 27-13 in Lautoka (Pacific Nations Cup)
28.06.2008 Samoa 20-15 in Nuku'alofa (Pacific Nations Cup)
16.09.2007 Tonga 19-15 in Montpellier (World Cup, Pool A)
23.06.2007 Samoa 50-3 in Apia (Pacific Nations Cup)
01.07.2006 Samoa 36-0 in Gosford (Pacific 5 Nations)
Tonga last won in Apia in 1980, winning 15-12.
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Samoa 12th, Tonga 14th
Oceania Table-Samoa 4th, Tonga 5th
IRB Rankings-Samoa 12th (72.08), Tonga 15th (68.18)
Prediction: Samoa too strong at home and in the slip stream of their successful 7's side, to win by 13 points.
15 Paul Williams, 14 Mikaele Pesamino, 13 George Pisi, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 David Lemi, 10 Lolo Lui, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 George Stowers, 7 Falemiga Selesele, 6 Iosefa Tekori, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Filipo Lavea Levi, 3 Sakaria Taulafo, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Anthony Perenise.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Williams, 17 James Afoa, 18 Manaia Salave'a, 19 Alafoti Faosiliva, 20 Uale Mai, 21 Fautua Otto, 22 Uarotafou Setu.
Head Coach: Fuimaono Tafua
15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Alaska Taufa, 13 Saia Fekitoa, 12 Andrew Ma'ilei, 11 Manu Ahotaeiloa, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Daniel Morath, 8 tbc, 7 Paula Kata, 6 Kelepi Halafihi, 5 Alepini Olosoni, 4 Akameta Feao, 3 Pa'alo'i Taula, 2 Aleki Lutui (c), 1 Toma Toke.
Replacements: 16 Sione Vaiomounga, 17 Sione Fukofuka, 18 Sitiveni Mafi, 19 Atunaisa Sikalu, 20 Samisoni Fisilau, 21 Fangatapu Apikotoa, 22 Alipate Fatafehi.
Head Coach: Isitolo Maka