OKBET Tonga has made it into the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Tonga has made it into the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Tonga advanced to the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France with a 44-22 victory against Hong Kong in the Asia/Pacific 1 play-off at Australia’s Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday, led by a hat trick from skipper Sonatane Takalua.

The ‘Ikale Tahi will participate in Pool B at the RWC 2023, starting their schedule on September 16 against Ireland in Nantes, followed by matches against Scotland in Nice on September 24, South Africa in Marseille on October 1, and Romania in Lille on October 8.

The 19th team to guarantee their place in next year’s France tournament was Takalua, and after the game, they felt a sense of relief.

“I am blessed to score these three tries but it wasn’t just me, it was a wonderful effort from all the lads, and it is a huge relief to achieve the victory,” said Tonga’s three-try hero.

Having Tongan fans cheer us on no matter where we play in the globe is a huge boost, and today was no different.

With the wind at their backs in the first half, Tonga seemed poised to score early but were ultimately left unhappy as two tries were called back.

First, Tima Fainga’anuku had a try disallowed due to a knock-on by Takalua at the ruck’s base in the buildup to a short side play, and later, the ever-dangerous Solomone Funaki had a score from a maul disallowed due to obstruction.


Hong Kong had already given up five penalties in the opening ten minutes, and they were under intense pressure, especially at scrum time.

Tonga had been unable to score despite dominating territory and time of possession until the 11th minute, when another Hong Kong mistake was punished by the reliable left boot of fly-half William Havili.

The first try was scored by Takalua, who snuck over from close range, and was set up by strong carries by openside Funaki and inside center Fetuli Paea; Havili converted to put Tonga up by ten points.

A few minutes before the end of the first quarter, Hong Kong got their hands on the ball and scored a try on their first trip inside the Tongan 22 thanks to a nice throw to hooker Alex Post in the corner.

The loss hurt Tonga, so they stepped it up for their second attempt. After the forwards got the ball rolling, scrum half Takalua sprinted for the line himself, and at first sight, it seemed like he fumbled the ball. Nonetheless, referee Damon Murphy, after consulting with his TMO, granted the try, and Havili kicked the extra points for a 17-5 advantage.

The Hong Kong team quickly responded with a solid carry by Tom Hill after a good fake and run by fullback Nate de Thierry had gotten them inside the Tongan 22. Tonga were attempting to withdraw when hooker Siua Maile was penalized for slowing down the ball in the ruck. Gregor McNeish converted the ensuing conversion.

Havili’s second penalty at the break made it 20-8, and despite being down to 14 men, Tonga still seemed like the more likely side to score.

Sione Havili Talitui missed an easy try by inches, and McNeish made a fantastic cover tackle to stop Maile’s bustling run down the left touchline when he returned from the sin bin.

Powerful second half

Tonga got off to a great start in the second half thanks to a third try from Takalua just two minutes after the restart, and things didn’t seem good for Hong Kong until loosehead Siegfried Fisi’ihoi smashed over at the back of a maul 47 minutes into the match.

Eventually, Tonga capitalized on their scrum dominance to score, with winger Telusa Veainu completing a set piece move at the hour mark. This occurred after a period of sloppy play. After missing twice, Havili made up for it by converting the third attempt.

The game had loosened up by this point, and Anzelo Tuitavuki, another winger like Veainu, scored the game’s greatest try on a scorching 65-meter attempt that included a goosestep.

Tonga leads by a score of 44-8 after Havili makes his sixth successful kick of the game.

In the 75th minute, Hong Kong’s hard work paid off as Matt Worley made a spectacular catch off a crossfield kick from McNeish for the team’s second try.

A risky punt from Bryn Philips downfield found Worley, who capitalized on a favorable bounce thanks to his blistering speed as time ran out for the Bedford Blues.

Excellent game-winning effort by Hong Kong, who will have another shot at qualifying for their first Rugby World Cup this coming November.

They finished second in Asia and the Pacific, therefore they’ll compete in a round robin with Portugal (Europe 3), Kenya (Africa 2), and the United States (Africa 1) for a spot in the Final Qualification Tournament (Americas 3).

Josh Hrstich, the number eight for Hong Kong, stated, “It is not the outcome we intended, but I am tremendously proud of our lads for how we gave it all.”

Part-time rugby fighters who had the opportunity of a lifetime to play against Tonga spent three weeks together.

The two of us vowed that we wouldn’t spend our last moments lamenting lost opportunities, so we gave it our best to the absolute end.

“I’m excited for us to make the next move together.”

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