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Big night for Pacific rugby

17 June 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

Pacific rugby had its biggest night of 2017 with last night's Pasifika Challenge at Auckland's Eden Park.

Wet conditions saw the stadium a little more than half-full for two international test matches, a Wales-Tonga curtain raiser ahead of Manu Samoa's clash with the world champion All Blacks. 

A brass band entertained a small crowd outside the stadium before four o'clock as Tongan rugby fans turned out early to witness the Tonga-Wales curtain raiser. 

Tongan brass band. Photo/ PRN.

Manu Samoa and 'Ikale Tahi had plenty to play for at Eden Park, each hoping to seal a historic first ever win against their respective opponents.

Tonga started confidently but were unable to cope with a Welsh side weakened by the current British and Irish Lions tour. 

Welsh first-five Sam Davies kicked four penalties, while winger Alex Cuthbert scored a try early in the first half and was denied two more.

Wales took the game 24 to 6, with all of Tonga's points coming off the boot of halfback Sonatane Takulua.

An impassioned Siva Tau from Manu Samoa kicked the main event off with a roar, but it was the resident world champions who brought the noise.

Pasifika Challenge: Manu Samoa at Eden Park. Photo/ PRN.

Despite powerful physicality in the game's opening moments, Manu Samoa couldn't match the All Blacks' ferocity and pace. 

A 28 to 0 deficit going into half-time may have been retrievable but an onslaught of 12 tries from the New Zealanders was not. 

The home team's Samoan players made big impression on the game. Sonny Bill Williams and both of the Savea brothers scored tries. Lima Sopoaga knocked over two conversions and Jerome Kaino returned to the field with as physical a presence as ever. 

Manu finished the match scoreless to the All Blacks 78.

If those watching were disappointed, it didn't show - the stadium was slow to empty as Samoan rugby fans stopped to siva.

Tags: Tonga, samoa, Manu Samoa, 'Ikale Tahi, Pasifika Challenge,