Ikale Tahi top great weekend for Tonga with RWC qualification

By RNZ.co.nz

Tonga has booked its place in the 2023 Rugby World Cup after winning the repechage event in Australia.

The Ikale Tahi defeated Hong Kong 44-22 in the Asia-Pacific qualifier at the Sunshine Coast Stadium in front of a large number of expat Tongans.

Jubilant Tongan players after they qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Jubilant Tongan players after they qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup Photo: Tonga Rugby Union

It caps a fantastic weekend of sport for the Kingdom with the Tala qualifying for the Netball World Cup for the first time after going unbeaten in the Oceania play-off competition in Suva.

Captain Sonatane Takalua had a good night scoring three tries while Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Telusa Veainu and Anzelo Tuitavuki also touched down.

Tonga were the better side from the start and opened up a 20-8 lead at half-time.

They extended that to 44-8 but they then conceded two converted Hong Kong tries in the final five minutes.

Takalua told Matangi Tonga the team is ecstatic at qualifying for the finals in France next year.

He says it was a great effort from all the players and a big relief to get the win.

It’s the eighth time Tonga have qualified for the Rugby World Cup.

Hong Kong now take on Kenya, Portugal and the United States in a four-team repechage in November for the final spot.

Players and supporters celebrate at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday

Players and supporters celebrate at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday Photo: Tonga Rugby Union

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