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Junior Manu Samoa Secures Berth in World Rugby U20 Trophy with Dominant Win Over Ikale Tahi

Samoa U20 beats Tonga U20 - Photo Credit Moana Pasifika

In a decisive clash at North Harbour Stadium, Junior Manu Samoa outplayed Junior ‘Ikale Tahi with a resounding 40-14 victory, punching their ticket to the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2024 in Scotland.

From the whistle, Samoa set the tempo, employing a high-octane, physical game that Tonga struggled to counter. An early penalty goal put Samoa on the board, signalling their intent to dominate proceedings. Despite Tonga breaching Samoa’s try line in the opening minutes, Samoa's prop Harry Hanipale bulldozed through for a try, marking the beginning of Samoa's onslaught.

The backline, orchestrated masterfully by Captain Wally Vesi, kept the Tongan defence on its heels. Vesi's electrifying runs and deft footwork were instrumental, creating space and opportunities for his teammates. Winger Panaua Niulevaea capitalised on one such opportunity, touching down on the left flank following a slick offload from Vesi.

Vesi himself crossed the whitewash after a mesmerising solo effort, leaving multiple defenders in his wake. Samoa's ability to maintain momentum and exploit gaps in the Tongan defence was evident throughout the first half.

The match's turning point came when Tonga's winger, Fotofili Mahe, saw yellow for his role in an on-field altercation. Samoa seized the moment, slotting an easy penalty to extend their lead. Despite being a man down, Tonga showed flashes of brilliance but failed to convert pressure into points, often thwarted by Samoa's impenetrable defence.

Tonga's resolve did not wane, with Tutu’ila Taulava scoring from a well-executed line out and maul. However, Samoa's clinical execution and strategic nous were too much for the Tongans, who found themselves outplayed in critical phases of the game.

Post-match, Samoa's Ravuama Seruvakula reflected on the significance of the win, emphasising the strategic focus on line speed and pressure that overwhelmed the Tongans. The victory, a testament to their preparation and spirit, propels Samoa into the U20 Trophy with high hopes of clinching their third title.

Tonga's Captain Siasofi Tohi expressed disappointment yet pride in his team's effort, vowing to continue fighting for their country. The loss sets Tonga up for a rebound match against Moana Pasifika, with hopes to end their campaign on a high note.

As Samoa gears up for the World Rugby U20 Trophy, their performance in North Harbour sends a strong message to their future opponents: the Junior Manu Samoa is not just participating; they are contenders for the crown.


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