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Tonga and Samoa win opening Pacific Division World Cup Qualifiers

Tonga and Samoa are one step closer to qualifying for the World Cup after winning their Pacific Division Qualifiers tonight at Campbelltown Stadium in the south-west of Sydney.
Tonga and Samoa win opening Pacific Division World Cup Qualifiers
by NRL

Tonga and Samoa are one step closer to qualifying for the World Cup after winning their Pacific Division Qualifiers tonight at Campbelltown Stadium in the south-west of Sydney.

Tonga who are coached by former Western Suburbs, Canterbury, Parramatta and London lock forward Jim Dymock were far too good for the Cook Islands winning 56-14. Tonga were boosted by the presence of NRL/Super League players Andrew Emelio, Manase Manukafoa, Tyrone Smith and Solomon Haumono were never headed in the match. The Cook Islands tried to revive a comeback in the second half but Tonga ran away with the clash.

The second match was an absolute corker with Samoa edging out a very unlucky Fiji outfit 30-28. The standard of Rugby League in this match was of the highest class and it was good to see both sides play pure Football rather than just be athletes and play like robots. The only disappointment of this clash was the refereeing of NRL referee Jarrad Maxwell as Fiji couldn't buy themselves a penalty and a good 10m.

Samoa are coached by John Ackland who played one Test for New Zealand in 1983 and is the current Warriors Assistant Coach. It was Ackland who discovered Sonny Bill Williams as a youngster and got him placed in the Bulldogs development system. The Samoan side that played tonight included George Carmont (who was captain), Hutch Maiava, Peewee Moke, Frank Winterstein and Kylie Leuluai and they were too strong for Fiji up the middle.

Former Penrith player Joe Dakuitoga, now known as Joe Rabele is the coach of Fiji and played in the top grade for the Panthers in 1994-95 and played for Fiji in 1995. Fiji's side tonight included Dragons duo Wes Naiqama and Daryl Millard and both proved to be the attacking spark for the Fijians.

Fiji nearly stole the match at the end with three dangerous attacking raids including a 70m burst by Millard where he was taken into touch by a great cover tackle from the Samoan fullback. It was one of the best matches I've had the pleasure of seeing and only second to the Dragons-Bulldogs blockbuster at Kogarah earlier this year.

It was a great night for International Rugby League and it shows that the best Rugby League is away from the NRL where the natural Football talents are on display. NRL players Roy Asotasi, Nigel Vagana and Fui Fui Moi Moi were in the crowd tonight and both games enjoyed vocal support.

The next round of matches will be played at the Western Weekender Stadium in St Marys North on Wednesday night, 4th October. It'll be another great round robin of games and well worth attending for those wanting to see Rugby League at its entertaining best.

Congratulations to the RLIF who did a great job staging these matches and also on their new website, which can be viewed at: www.rlif.org

WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Oceania Group
Friday, September 29, 2006

Campbelltown Stadium. Crowd: 3013

Tonga 56 (Makasini Richter 2, Joe Falemaka 2, Tyrone Smith, Sosaia Makasini, Andrew Emelio, John Kite, William Topou, David Pangai tries; Joel Taufao 6, Pangai 2 goals) d. Cook Islands 14 (Ben Taia, Rueben Enoka, Ioane Victor tries; Marty Mitchell goal). Referee: Tony De La Heras.

Samoa 30 (Conrad Ta'amoekiafa, Malofou Solomona, Frank Winterstein, McConkie Tausa, Hutch Maiava, Kylie Leuluai tries; Chan Ly 2, Albert Talapeau goals) d. Fiji 28 (James Lagiloa, Daryl Millard, Wes Naiqama, Semisi Tara, Iowane Divavesi tries; Naiqama 4 goals). Referee: Jared Maxwell.

POINTS TABLE
P W L F A PTS Diff.
Tonga 1 1 0 56 14 2 + 42
Samoa 1 1 0 30 28 2 + 2
Fiji 1 0 1 28 30 0 - 2
Cook Islands 1 0 1 14 56 0 - 42

ROUND 2
Wednesday, 4 October 2006 Western Weekender Stadium

Fiji v Tonga kickoff at 5.45pm
Samoa v Cook Islands kickoff at 7.30pm

ROUND 3 (FINAL ROUND)
Saturday, 7 October 2006 CUA Stadium, Penrith

Fiji v Cook Islands kickoff at 7pm

* Samoa v Tonga match will be played on October 22 in Leeds, England as part of the Federation Shield with France and England. The Samoa vs Tonga game will also serve as a World Cup qualifying match.

Tickets are priced at $10 for adults. Children 16 and under are permitted free of charge.


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