Tonga: all the skill of the sev­ens and the naivety too

The Herald - Sport - - RUGBY WORLD CUP -

This time around Tonga were not to be re­sisted. Un­daunted by the late with­drawal of their record tryscorer Fetu’u Vainikolo they ar­rived with what looked a sim­i­lar game­plan to that which back­fired in their open­ing match against doughty Ge­or­gia 10 days ear­lier, in other words one that was close to in­dis­cernible, but Namibia’s greater de­sire to com­bat it by tak­ing them on at a sim­i­lar game counted against the African side.

Ex­hil­a­rat­ing as watch­ing this sort of rugby is for neu­tral spec­ta­tors there have to be times when their com­mit­ted sup­port­ers or their coaches are tear­ing their hair out in frus­tra­tion at the way the Ton­gans in par­tic­u­lar ap­proach the game.

At times the way the ball was be­ing flung around had the feel of sev­ens and, for all their ex­plo­sive­ness and skill they boast it re­mains all too ob­vi­ous why teams that are pre­pared to main­tain de­fen­sive dis­ci­pline and ap­ply pres­sure to them in the right ar­eas can pick them off.

Yet it seems rather churl­ish point­ing all of that out be­cause they are sim­ply a joy to watch when in full flow, so why not just revel in the fact that in spite of again mak­ing umpteen sloppy mis­takes the re­ward was there for the out­ra­geous risks they are pre­pared to take to keep the ball alive.

A cou­ple of tries in the first 12 min­utes, Vainikolo’s re­place­ment Telusa Veainu squirm­ing over for the first and flanker Jack Ram the sec­ond gave them ad­di­tional li­cence and meant that even af­ter they took one chance too many, al­low­ing Namib­ian winger Jo­han Tromp a mo­ment of ec­stasy as he got on the score­sheet, they could con­tinue to play their nat­u­ral game.

Not that it felt as if they were ever in­clined to do any­thing else and when Latiume Fosita broke through for their third try with just 25 min­utes the bonus point win be­came all but in­evitable.

It looked to have come in the last move of the half when a fly­ing Veianu, hor­i­zon­tal to the turf man­aged to dot the ball into the cor­ner, but had a fin­ger­nail of his non-scor­ing hand in touch, how­ever his break and 40-me­tre burst soon af­ter the break se­cured it as he put Ram in for his sec­ond.

The war­rior who is Jac­ques Burger, Namibia’s cap­tain, typ­i­cally re­sponded by forc­ing his way over for a brace of tries, but they sand­wiched the ex­cel­lent Veianu’s sec­ond and the out­come was never in doubt as, with a 35-21 win, the Ton­gans gave them­selves a glim­mer of a chance of sal­vaging a cam­paign which be­gan so fal­ter­ingly.

No try this time for fly­ing Ton­gan Telusa Veainu but he claimed two in his side’s

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