They defeated Tonga in a two-legged play-off

Samoa qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023

Samoa have booked their place at France 2023 after defeating Tonga 79-28 on aggregate in their two-legged of Oceania qualification play-off. They won 37-15 in Hamilton on Saturday to ensure their ninth successive Rugby World Cup appearance.

Samoa are now in Pool D, alongside England, Japan, Argentina and an as-yet-to-be-determined second qualifier from the Americas.

Tonga will now have to face the Cook Islands in Pukekohe, New Zealand on July 24 for the right to play the winners of an Asian competition (one of Hong Kong, South Korea or Malaysia) in order to claim a place in Pool B alongside South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and a Europe 2 qualifier.

Samoa won the the first against Tonga in Auckland, 42-13.

Samoa led 20-3 at half-time in this decider, having scored the opening try from a lineout steal. A Tongan turnaround narrowed the gap to 23-15 in the second half, but Samoa’s class told as they pulled away with two late tries.

Samoa scored tries through Ed Fidow, Jonathan Taumateine, Stacey Ili and Kalolo Tuiloma.

Henry Taefu kicked 15 points – he scored 20 in the first game.

James Faiva of Tonga scored the first points of the match, with the boot, and Tonga added tries in the second half to Jay Fonokalafi and Sione Tuipulotu. Faiva kicked one conversion.

Asked what it felt like, after the game, Samoa captain Michael Alaalatoa said: “Very satisfying, the last four weeks we’ve been building to this game.

“We made it harder for ourselves in the second half … Credit to the boys they were able to stick to it and get some points to get back on top in the end.”

Samoa have competed at every World Cup since 1991, twice reaching the quarter-finals. Tonga have only missed the 1991 tournament and still have an opportunity to make it to France 2023.

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