Nuku’alofa, 7 March2015: Tonga’s Kasivaki Sevens team have had to settle for being runners up this weekend after a solid performance in Sandakan, Malaysia as part of the Borneo Sevens, which saw Tonga compete against teams from across the Asia/Pacific region.
Over three days of competition the Tongan team showed it had great strength and composure, particularly against highly competitive sides like Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea. Matches were punctuated by solid support play, tremendous offence from players like Ofa Teisina and captain Tasi Mau, and equally as dominant defence.
Early in the series Tonga showed real authority, defeating China convincingly, along with Singapore and Sri Lanka. A narrow victory of Hong Kong on day one and a 7 – 7 draw with Papua New Guinea on day two pointed to what would be a highly contested finals series on day three.
Tonga again came out hard in their semi final match against Sri Lanka, both teams throwing everything they had into the match, with Sri Lanka at one point nudging ahead of Tonga. However Kasivaki fought back to finish the semi 26 – 17 and went into the finals with a near perfect record.
The finals competition itself was one of the stand out games, Hong Kong and Tonga both bringing everything possible to bear in the game. While the final score margin of 24 – 0 favoured the Hong Kong team, Tonga certainly achieved a great deal, and have a very positive base to build from moving in to the Hong Kong Sevens at the end of March.
Head Coach Andy Katoa provided his views on the weekends competition, saying “The Format was exactly what we were looking for. The travel and three day tournament was a good buildup for the boys. Lots of [areas] to work on when we get back, but all are fixable, and most importantly we learned a lot about ourselves and one another. Our education and development continues as we commit to the process of getting better. [It has helped in] changing our behaviour and attitude towards preparations, and the sense of urgency of the game. [It was] awesome to have the opportunity to get better for the guys.”
Tonga will now begin preparation for their Hong Kong Sevens campaign, between 27 and 29 March. As well as looking for success in the biggest series on the circuit, Tonga is also chasing core team status in the World Rugby Sevens Series. Tonga has everything to play for, and appears to have built a solid foundation from which to build.