Tonga earns World Cup berth

From correspondents in Auckland
February 10, 2007

TONGA booked a spot in the 2007 Rugby World Cup finals when it thrashed Korea 85-3 in a repechage match in Auckland today.

The Pacific island nation ran in 13 tries, including three by right wing Vaea Poteki, while fly half Fangatapu Apikotoa dotted down twice to go with his 10 conversions for an impressive match tally of 30 points.

Tonga - who joins England, South Africa, the United States and Samoa in Pool A at the World Cup in France - scored right from the start when left wing Sione Fonua waltzed past weak tackles to score in the corner.

It was the first of six first-half tries, with Tonga leading 38-0 at the turn.

They added a further seven tries in the second spell, while Korea's sole points came from a penalty goal by fly half Hong Jun-Ki.

Tonga's Super 14 loose forwards Hale T. Pole and captain Nili Latu were dominant figures in the game, producing frequent turnovers which led to several tries.

Assistant coach Ellis Meachen said he was confident Tonga could progress through pool play despite being the last qualifier.

He expected England and South Africa to be softened up by physical games against Samoa, and said his side would take a similar approach.

Agence France-Presse