Match Preview: Tonga vs. Toa Samoa

Toa Samoa v Tonga

Saturday, May 2

Cbus Super Stadium

Kick-off: 7:40pm

Coverage: Live on Fox Sports, ABC Radio

International rivalry heats up this Saturday night on the Gold Coast as Toa Samoa and Tonga face off in the Test match arena for the first time since 2013.

The Samoan team earned the right to mix it with the best Rugby League nations during the 2014 Four Nations tournament and certainly did not let themselves down; losing narrowly to England, and even more impressively, eventual champions New Zealand.

On the other hand, Tonga’s most recent hit-out was a one-off Test match against Papua New Guinea last October in Lae, where a side missing key personnel suffered a 32-18 defeat.

Both teams have had their fair share of team changes since their previous matches, with notable omissions from both teams including Ben Roberts (Samoa) and Fui Fui Moi Moi (Tonga) who have now pursued careers in the Super League.

Looking at the two forwards packs, Toa Samoa look to have the advantage on paper with experienced players Frank Pritchard, Sam Kasiano and Josh McGuire leading the charge. However, Tonga will be bolstered by exciting young NRL players Manu Ma’u and Sio Siua Taukeiaho; with the two International debutants adding an element of unknown to this fixture.

Tonga’s strength no doubt comes in the outside backs with powerful ball-runners Jorge Taufua, Konrad Hurrell and Mahe Fonua set cause Toa Samoa some real headaches; provided they can receive quality ball.

An interesting match-up comes in the halves where Tim Simona and Joel Luani will both pull-on the unfamiliar number seven jersey. Luani should adapt more comfortably, having played in the halves previously with Wests Tigers NSW Cup side and is more of a natural playmaker. Most expected Simona to continue his run at fullback for Samoa; however Matt Parish has made an interesting change to the side for this match.

The Breakdown

HEAD-TO HEAD: Played 3 – Samoa 2, Tonga 1

LAST TIME: Tonga 36 defeated Samoa 4; April 20, 2013 in Sydney

Players to watch

Samisoni Langi - Tonga

The Sydney Roosters utility had a stellar game last time the two sides met in 2013, scoring two tries and kicking four goals in the 36-4 victory. Langi, along with halves partner Joel Luani, will have the task of providing the dangerous outside backs that Tonga have at their disposal with quality ball.

Mahe Fonua - Tonga

A devastating ball-runnner, Fonua has scored two tries in three games for Tonga. Add to that his 22 tries in 41 NRL games and you can expect the Melbourne Storm product to be watched closely by the Samoan defence come Saturday night.

Josh McGuire - Samoa

McGuire was in the unusual position of being eligible for three countries, including Australia and New Zealand, but pledged his allegiance to Samoa for a Test match in 2010. Primarily a prop or second rower, the Brisbane enforcer will line-up at hooker, a position in which he slotted in at during last year’s Four Nations tournament.

Frank Pritchard - Samoa

Pritchard is the most experienced member of the Samoan side and will take the reins as skipper from Four Nations captain David Fa’alogo. The Bulldogs hard-man will clash with Tonga’s leader Sika Manu in what could be the highlight of this intriguing encounter.

Wests Tigers in action

Joel Luani (Tonga) – A key member of Wests Tigers’ NSW Cup team this year, Luani will show his versatility once again lining up at halfback for Tonga. Having represented USA during the 2013 World Cup, Luani’s dual eligibility saw him make his debut for Tonga late last year. Wests Tigers team mate Asipeli Fine is also 18th man for Tonga.

Tim Simona (Samoa) – Simona will play his fourth Test match for Samoa this weekend. With his preferred position of centre, the 23-year-old has been named at halfback by Coach Matt Parish. Don’t be surprised to see a reshuffle at some point though, with both John Asiata and Dominique Peyroux on the bench.

Sauaso Sue (Samoa) – The Macquarie Fields junior has been a key member of the Samoan squad over the past few seasons including the Rugby League World Cup and the Four Nations tournament. With two backs named on the Samoan bench, expect plenty of minutes from Sue in a physical encounter that will suit his style of play.

Teams

Toa Samoa

 

Tonga

Tautau Moga

1

Tuimoala Lolohea

Pat Mata’utia

2

Jorge Taufua

Joey Leilua

3

Konrad Hurrell

Ricky Leutele

4

Solomone Kata

Daniel Vidot

5

Mahe Fonua

Carlos Tuimavave

6

Samisoni Langi

Tim Simona

7

Joel Luani

Sam Kasiano

8

Richard Fa’aoso

Josh McGuire

9

Pat Politoni

Sauaso Sue

10

Peni Terepo

Leeson Ah Mau

11

Sika Manu

Frank Pritchard (c)

12

Manu Ma’u

Isaac Liu

13

Siosiua Taukeiaho

John Asiata

14

Sosaia Feki

Dumanis Lui

15

Ben Murdoch-Masila

Sam Lisone

16

Felise Kaufusi

Dominique Peyroux

17

Albert Vete

Michael Sio 

18

Asipeli Fine

 

19

John Folau