All the details from a thrilling encounter, the first World Cup match to take place at Exeter's Sandy Park.
A combination of power from the pack and scintillating skills from the backs took Tonga to a bonus-point win over Namibia, but the Africans wowed the crowd with some gung-ho counter-attacking and gave the pre-match favourites a scare.
Wing Telusa Veainu, who came into the sidefor this World Cup match as a replacement for Fetu’u Vainikolo, was the star of the attacking show for Tonga, scoring two tries and coming oh-so-close to a third, only to put his hand into touch as he dived for the corner. Man of the Match Jack Ram also crossed twice for Tonga, while Latiume Fosita was their other try-scorer.
Namibia skipper Jacques Burger scored two tries, both from mauls driven over from lineouts, after Johan Tromp had opened their account in the first half. Theus Kotze kicked three terrific conversions.
Tonga’s superiority at the scrum proved crucial as they forced penalties and put Namibia on the back foot. Namibia have now played 17 World Cup matches without a win, but boy were they entertaining.
Running rugby – Tonga won the day and scored five tries, but Namibia were just as willing to run the ball, counter-attacking from everywhere. Chrysander Botha was particularly keen to get his team moving forward out of defence on his club home ground and he found willing allies all around him in the blue of Namibia.
Huge hit – The earth probably shook on the far side of Dartmoor when Tongan wing David Halaifonua stopped Namibia No 8 Renaldo Bothma in his tracks. The back-row picked up the ball from the back of a scrum and was at full pace, steaming up the right wing, when Halaifonua sent him back where he came from.
Sunny Sandy Park – The terraces and stands of this brilliant club rugby ground were packed with thousands of enthusiastic West Country rugby folk and hundreds of travelling fans. The sun shone, the beer flowed and the crowd cheered and chanted their way through the game, making it another fabulous World Cup occasion.
Lilo’s place kicking – It’s a good job this game wasn’t just a little bit tighter as Tongan full-back Vunga Lilo couldn’t hit a Devon barn door from the kicking tee. He is not their first choice kicker but still needs to improve, after missing three conversions and a penalty, some of which were quite straightforward kicks
Namibia’s scrum – Their lineout brought them two tries, but Namibia’s scrum mis-fired against the Tongan eight and coach Phil Davies was disappointed with this phase of the game, and the penalties his team gave away.
193 – The number of metres made by Tonga wing Veainu, who was promoted from the bench to the starting lineup just before the game. He carried the ball 12 times and was a big threat.
61 – Tonga’s percentage share of possession. That increased to 69% in the last ten minutes of the game.
15 – The number of penalties Namibia gave away, five of which came at scrum time.
35 – Tonga’s power and strength forced Namibia to miss 35 tackles.
Tonga: V Lilo (V Helu 58); D Halaifonua, S Piutau (capt, K Morath 57), S Piukala, T Veainu; L Fosita, S Takulua (S Fisilau 57); S Tonga’uiha (T Mailau 58), A Lutui (P Ngauamo 46), S Puafisi (H Aulika 58), H T-Pole (L Lokotui 42), J Tuineau, S Kalamafoni (O Fonua 32), J Ram, V Ma’afu.
Tries (5): Telusa Veainu 2, Jack Ram, 2, Latiume Fosita, Pens: Vunga Lilo 1, Kurt Morath 1. Cons: Vunga Lilo 2.
Namibia: C Botha; J Tromp (D Philander 64), D Van Wyk, J Deysel (D De La Harpe 70), R Van Wyk; T Kotze, E Buitendag (D Stevens 71); C Viviers (L van der Westhuizen 40), T Van Jaarsveld, J Coetzee, J Venter (PJ Van Lill 40), T Uanivi, J Burger (capt), R Kitshoff, R Bothma (T Du Plessis 68).
Tries (3): Johan Tromp, Jacques Burger 2. Cons: Theuns Kotze 3.
Referee: Glen Jackson (South Africa)
Man of the Match: Jack Ram
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