Samoa (14) 20
Tries: Meli, Vagana, Utai, Carmont Goals: Roberts (2)
Tonga (12) 12
Tries: Jennings, Leo-Latu Goals: Williams (2)
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Highlights: Samoa 20-12 Tonga
Samoa triumphed in a bruising and hugely entertaining Group C Rugby League World Cup match against Tonga.
Francis Meli put Samoa in front with Nigel Vagana sprinting the length of the field for their second try.
Tries by Michael Jennings and Tevita Leo-Latu put Tonga ahead, only for Matt Utai to restore Samoa's advantage.
George Carmont extended that when he scored after David Solomona's off-load and despite plenty of effort, there were no more scores in the match.
Samoa drew first blood when Carmont set up Meli to go over in the left-hand corner from close range after Richard Fa'aoso had coughed up possession, which put pressure on Tonga to get on the scoreboard.
But that enthusiasm backfired when Leo-Latu's pass was intercepted by Vagana just yards from the Samoan line, and the former New Zealand international ran the length of the field to add a second score.
A combination of handling errors and hard tackling by both sides ensured play kept changing direction, and Tonga's persistence in attack was rewarded when Lagi Setu lost the ball in a tackle.
From the resulting turnover, they worked the ball over to the left and a burst of speed took Jennings over behind the posts to score.
Vagana wasted a great chance as he dropped the ball as he went over the tryline, and he was promptly made to pay for that error.
Leo-Latu made amends for his earlier mistake as he showed a great burst of pace and side-step from dummy half to find a hole in the left-hand side of the Samoan defence and score.
Utai eluded the challenge of Esikeli Tonga to score and put Samoa back in front just before the end of a hugely enjoyable first half.
The high tempo continued after the restart, with Tonga trying desperately to close the gap, but the next score came from the team in blue.
Solomona launched a counter-attack with a beautifully timed off-load, and Carmont ripped through the Tongan defence to score and extend Samoa's advantage.
They then had two more chances to further extend that lead in as many minutes, as first Meli failed to connect with another Solomona off-load, and then Carmont had a try ruled out after being called back for a debatable forward pass.
Pinned back in their own half for most of the half, Tonga became increasingly desperate to try and do something with their rare attacks, which was counter-productive as it just put them under more pressure.
In the closing stages they threw everything into attack, but Samoa defended in depth to hold on for a bruising and hard-fought win.
Samoa: Samau, Utai, Talau, Carmont, Meli, Vagana, Roberts, Leuluai, Seuseu, T. Puletua, Setu, Solomona, Hansen. Replacements: F. Puletua, Lauitiiti, Paulo, Talipeau.
Tonga: Jennings, Vuna, Talanoa, Uaisele, Tonga, Mateo, Taufa'ao, Kaufusi, Leo-Latau, Guttenbeil, L. Paea, Fa'aoso, Manu. Replacements: Manuokafoa, Lauaki, Moa, M. Paea.