In one of the games of the year, Samoa finished with a flourish to escape Pirtek Stadium with victory over Pacific rivals Tonga 18-6

Not one for the purists

As entertaining as the game was, Tonga completed at 60% and Samoa at 55% – footy purists who came in to the game looking for a match similar to the aptly named Downer Trans-Tasman Test would not have been pleased by the amount of drop ball and loose offloads. Most fans, on the other hand, were riveted by the flamboyance of the Island nations, engaged in a style of risky football rarely seen in the NRL.

Andrew Voss for CEO

Andrew Voss, the commentator for Fox Sports, floated playing a Pacific Tri-Series of Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand during the State of Origin period, culminating in a match between the best of the Pacific Islands and Australia. Not only would this give international league more time in the public eye, it would give Pacific players more of a reason to represent their Island nation rather than swapping eligibilities to play State of Origin for exposure and the money.

Samisoni Langi couldn’t buy a trick

Samisoni Langi, the halfback for Tonga, was controlling the game well before tearing his ACL, and for the second time in two years at that. This meant that Feleti Mateo was forced to shoulder most of the playmaking duties, a burden that would ultimately prove too much: Langi’s devotion in the early game added impetus to Tonga’s kick chase, and though the injury derailed the Tongan’s night, it was still a promising performance that is sure to have some scouts in the NRL wondering if they should take a punt next year on Langi, who plays for the North Sydney Bears in the Intrust Super Premiership.

O Captain My Captain for Pacific nations

Though neither of them crossed the stripe, Frank Pritchard and Sika Manu gave their all to the game in performances they are sure to remember years from now. Both leading from the front after being released from Hull FC to play, “The Tank” was denied a try on multiple occasions, once by the bunker and once by the on field officials, and Manu was also very close to a four pointer of his own. It truly is a shame we rarely get to see matches played with this much passion and pride for the jersey.