Junior ABs finish with 100% record

(IRB.COM) Thursday 2 July 2009
 Junior ABs finish with 100% record
The Junior ABs celebrate defeating Tonga and winning the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2009 - Photo: oceaniarugby.com

The Junior All Blacks recovered from a first-half deficit against Tonga to record a 47-25 victory and celebrate the ANZ Pacific Nations Cup 2009 crown in style at the National Stadium in Suva, Fiji.


Hosea Gear scored a hat trick of tries to take his tally to eight for the tournament, five ahead of his nearest challenger - another Junior ABs try scorer against Tonga, Sione Lauaki.

Midway through the first half Tonga led 10-0, thanks to 'Emosi Kauhenga's first try in seven Pacific Nations Cup appearances, converted by captain Pierre Hola, who also added a penalty.

Even when Gear scored two tries in three minutes 20 minutes into the first half, Hola kicked another penalty to push Tonga ahead once again before Muli Kaufusi touched down just before the break to give Tonga a 18-12 lead at half time.

Rene Ranger and Lauaki scored tries early in the second half for the Junior ABs to regain the lead. Tonga, who end this year's PNC winless, might have expected to crumble at this point, but instead Tongan wing Mateo Malupo scored next to bring his side back to within a point of the Junior Abs.

The Junior ABs' introduction of Victor Vito midway through the second half proved crucial as his surging runs energized the rest of his pack and began to sap that of Tonga.

But it was only in the last eight minutes that Tongan resistance finally faded as the Junior ABs scored three late tries.

The final match of this year's ANZ Pacific Nations Cup takes place on 3 July at the National Stadium in Suva, between Fiji and Japan. Fiji will move above Samoa into second in the overall standings if they win.