Wins for USA and Tonga as Fiji and Samoa serve up PNC classic
USA upset RWC 2015 opponents Japan, Tonga beat Canada and island rivals Fiji and Samoa drew on the second day of the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup.
Only two months out from their meeting at Rugby World Cup 2015, USA claimed a confidence-boosting 23-18 victory over their Pool B opponents Japan at Bonney Field in California.
Despite a resolute effort from the Brave Blossoms, USA out-half AJ McGinty kicked six penalties to help his side bounce back from the first round defeat to Samoa.
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The first match of the day at Bonney Field was a battle for Pacific pride and one that went right down to the wire, Samoa replacement Patrick Fa’apale kicking a 78th–minute penalty to secure a 30-30 draw with Fiji.
Fiji and Samoa had both won their opening Pacific Nations Cup matches last weekend and it was a typical encounter between two Pacific Island nations, each hungry for a morale-boosting victory as the countdown to RWC 2015 continues.
Samoa fought back to make up a second-half deficit, but it was Fiji who hit the front again with 76 minutes on the clock, Volavola kicking a penalty that looked like it would be the match-winner until Fa’apale had the final say to Samoa’s relief.
Meanwhile, the other match of the day took place in Burnaby with Tonga running out 28-18 winners over their hosts Canada despite getting off to a slow start at the Swanguard Stadium.
Canada burst out of the blocks, however Tonga capitalised on a yellow card with scrum-half Sonatane Takulua responsible for two tries for the Islanders.
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The PNC runs from 18 July to 3 August with teams drawn in two pools of three in a round-robin competition, played at venues in Fiji, USA and Canada. The pool stages of the Pacific Nations Cup 2015 conclude on Wednesday in Toronto when USA tackle Tonga, Fiji face Japan and hosts Canada meet Samoa at BMO Field. The final rankings will then determine who faces who on the finals day in Vancouver on 3 August.