France-based centre Seremaia Bai kicked 12 points and tackled doggedly as Fiji beat Tonga 27-12 in a World Cup warm-up match in Lautoka on Saturday.
Fiji scored three first-half tries to lead 21-5 at half-time but Tonga pressured the home side throughout the second half.
Bai's goal-kicking and rigid midfield defence was critical as Tonga fullback Viliame Iongi scored his second try of the match in a more closely-fought second half.
Fiji seized the lead after only three minutes with a try to wing Vereniki Goneva after Tonga lost the ball inside Fiji's 22 and fullback Kini Murimurivalu booted the ball downfield for Goneva to collect the bounce and score near the posts. Bai converted.
Tonga responded, moving the ball quickly from a line-out in the 10th minute and Iongi scored in the corner. Flyhalf Samisoni Fisilau missed a conversion which would have tied the scores.
Lock Rupeni Nasiga scored Fiji's second try after 19 minutes. Albert Vulivuli carried the ball to the line and it was quickly moved wide for Nasiga to score in the corner and Bai to convert from the sideline.
Murimurivalu outflanked the Tonga defence to score in the 35th minute and Bai again converted to give Fiji a comfortable half-time lead.
Iongi scored his second try in the opening minute of the second half to boost Tonga's hopes, and Fisilau - who had missed two penalties - landed the conversion to cut the lead to 21-12. But Bai landed two second half penalties and rallied a determined Fiji defence to keep the match under control.
Fiji's win avenged its 45-21 loss to Tonga during the recent Pacific Nations Cup. The teams will meet again in a final warm-up match before Tonga meets New Zealand in the opening match of the World Cup in Auckland on Sept. 9.
Tries: Goneva, Nasiga, Murimurivalu
Cons: Bai 3
Pens: Bai 2
Tries: Iongi 2
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Albert Vulivuli, 12 Seremaia Bai (vice-capt), 11 Adriu Delai, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Vitori Buatava, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Rupeni Nasiga, 3 Deacon Manu (captain), 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Maafu.
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Waisea Daveta, 18 Jovilisi Domolailai, 19 Masi Matadigo, 20 Waisale Vatuvoka, 21 Ravai Fatiaki, 22 Iliesa Keresoni.
Tonga: 15 Viliame Iongi, 14 William Helu, 13 Sukanaivalu Hufanga, 12 Andrew Mailei, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Samisoni Fisilau, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Sione Vaiomo'unga, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Paino Hehea, 4 Tukulua Lokotui, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Aleki Lutui (captain), 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Ephraim Taukafa, 17 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 18 Sione Timani, 19 Samiu Vahafolau, 20 Tomasi Palu, 21 Siale Piutau, 22 Vungakoto Lilo.
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
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