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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 June, 2003, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Ireland limp past Tonga
O'Gara kicked 10 points for Ireland
O'Gara kicked 10 points for Ireland

Tonga 19-40 Ireland

Ireland registered an unimpressive win over Tonga in Nuku'alofa to record their first win of their summer tour.

The tourists, while below par, outscored their opponents by six tries to two.

Their cause was helped by some shoddy defending and the dismissal of Viliami Ma'asi after 58 minutes for stamping on the head of Irish number eight Eric Miller.

At the Teufaiva Stadium, Tonga lined up without six of their stars based in Europe while Ireland were forced into a late change with Mark McHugh coming in to replace full-back Girvan Dempsey, who was stuck down with a stomach bug.

Tonga - 19
Tries: Hola (2)
Pens: Hola (3)
Ireland - 40
Tries: G. Easterby (2), Kelly (2), McHugh, Bell
Cons: O'Gara (2)
Pens: O'Gara (2)
Tonga led 6-0 after 10 minutes following two penalties to Pierre Hola and after debutant McHugh dropped his third high ball in succession, Hola crossed for first try of the game.

Two Ronan O'Gara penalties got Ireland on the board and two tries close to half-time saw the match turn the tourists' way.

Scrum-half Guy Easterby charged over from close range on 39 minutes after good work by Mike Mullins and three minutes later John Kelly scored in the corner to give Ireland a 20-14 half-time lead.

In the second half the Tongan challenge receded and Ireland controlled most of the possession.

Kelly got his second try on 44 minutes while 15 minutes later Easterby crossed for his second effort after a quick tap penalty.

Tonga briefly threatened to make a comeback when that man Hola again ran the length of the pitch to score after an interception from a Mullins pass, but Ireland closed out the game professionally in the closing minutes, scoring two further tries.

On 79 minutes McHugh put his bad start behind him to run in a neat try after a sweet backline move, while in injury time the Irish man of the match Johnny Bell ran onto a O'Gara pass to burst through for a fine try.

The match ended on somewhat of a sour note when Ireland's Paul O'Connell and Tonga captain Inoke Afeaki were both sinbinned for fighting off the ball with three minutes left.

Tonga: Gus Leger, Pierre Hola, Johnny Ngauamo, John Payne, Simana Mafileo, Tony Alatini, David Palu; Saia Latu, Stanley Afeaki, Nisifolo Naufahu, Inoke Afeaki (capt), Milton Ngauamo, Heamani Lavaka, Viliami Ma'asi, Tonga Lea'aetoa.
Replacements: Ephraim Taukafa, Kisi Pulu, Viliami Vaki, Benhur Kivalu, Willie Gibbons, Taniela Tulia, Tevita Tuifua.

Ireland: Mark McHugh, John Kelly, Mike Mullins, Jonathan Bell, Tyrone Howe, Ronan O'Gara, Guy Easterby; Eric Miller, Kieron Dawson, Simon Easterby, Paul O'Connell, Leo Cullen, Reggie Corrigan (capt), Shane Byrne, Justin Fitzpatrick
Replacements: Paul Shields, Simon Best, Doncha O'Callaghan, David Wallace, Brian O'Meara, Paul Burke, Gordon D'Arcy.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)

Flatley kills off Ireland
07 Jun 03  |  Internationals

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