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Tonga raced ahead and held on to beat the French Barbarians 49-38 in a thrilling contest featuring 13 tries on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua scored two tries and converted all seven for Tonga, which led 28-7 at the interval and 49-14 before the Barbarians — featuring five French players from the side which won the Under-20 World Cup in June — mounted a late surge.
Tonga scored early as prop Siegfried Fisi’ihoi picked the ball up from a teammate held up on the line and found a small gap.
With Tonga totally dominating the first 15 minutes, the inevitable second try came when Takulua darted over. Tonga’s forwards were proving too strong and the next try came from rampaging No. 8 Sione Vailanu.
The Barbarians enjoyed their first good spell near the end of the first half, and scrumhalf Thibault Daubagna ran in a converted score. Center Alaska Taufa muscled through for Tonga’s fourth on the stroke of halftime.
Tonga pressured straight after the break and, with a Barbarian sin-binned, Takulua feinted a dummy and cut inside for his second try.
Despite being a man down, the home side cut through Tonga’s slack midfield and 19-year-old center Romain Ntamack — the son of former France winger Emile Ntamack — finished off a quick move for a converted score.
Takulua was in fine form and set up replacement utility back Latiume Fosita for the sixth try, and fullback Vunga Lilo pounced after the Barbarians lost the ball and Takulua quickly gathered it to spark the move.
Then Tonga got complacent and the Barbarians ran in four consecutive tries — through Pierre-Louis Barassi, impressive winger Martin Laveau, Yvan Reilhac and right winger Clement Laporte — before running out of time.
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