Joseph Suaalii and Junior Paulo flagged in Samoa win over Tonga


Samoa advance to the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup for the first time, but the team are at risk of losing Joseph Suaalii and Junior Paulo through suspension.

The pair were challenged in Samoa’s 20-18 win over arch-rivals Tonga, a win that sets up a semi-final clash with England in London on Sunday morning.

But they may have to face the home side without Suaalii or Paulo.

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Both players were flagged while in possession, Suaalii for running with a raised knee as Tonga’s Felise Faufusi tried to tackle him, while Paulo elbowed David Fifita in the throat .

Speaking after the match, Samoa coach Matt Parish hoped Suaalii would escape a ban and was full of praise for the teenager’s performance.

“I’d be surprised if anything came of it,” Parish said.

“He was amazing, wasn’t he, for a 19-year-old kid. He was amazing for our group for a young guy. He was well-schooled and well-educated. Certainly, I think he enjoys rolling it. right now.

“He’s pretty good in any position you put him in. He’s got a long career ahead of him which is going to be exciting to watch. He’s been a part of that and I’m happy for him too because he could have choose to play for Australia. He signed up for Samoa like a lot of these young men. Which is nice.”

Tries from Jaydn Su’a and Jarome Luai in the opening 16 minutes gave Samoa a 12-4 lead, although Tonga fought back via Siosiua Taukeiaho just before half-time.

When Brian To’o crossed in the 58th minute, Samoa had a 20-12 lead, but a 70th-minute try from Sione Katoa cut the gap to just two points and set up a stand finish, Samoa holding off a desperate Tonga to secure victory.

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