South Africa 30 Tonga 25: Vainikolo in line for Tonga debut against England
Gloucester's Lesley "The Volcano" Vainikolo could be unleashed on England this week. Tonga, fresh from earning a bonus point in pushing South Africa all the way in Lens on Saturday, have two injured wings.
The team manager, Angus Naupoto, is understood to have spoken to Vainikolo, the 17st 4lb 28-year-old who scored five tries against Leeds eight days ago.
"Seti Kiole, who did not play against South Africa, and Tevita Tu'ifua, who did, both have knee injuries," said Naupoto. "If one of them cannot carry on we would need to call up a replacement."
Vainikolo's league caps for New Zealand do not affect his union eligibility, though he can also play for England on residency grounds. "My ambition is to play for England down the line," he said yesterday, "but I am also qualified for Tonga, so it's a question of whoever comes first."
Tonga also lost the second row Paino Hehea for six weeks with an injured shoulder after a physical and gripping match. South Africa's leading players began on the bench and the rotation almost cost the head coach, Jake White, an embarrassing defeat.
Afterwards the Boks rated Jonny Wilkinson as England's key to beating Tonga in Paris on Friday.
"It's important to have experience in your team," said Percy Montgomery, the full-back who won a Springbok-record 90th cap. "Jonny is a guy who can keep the scoreboard ticking and keep the forwards on the front foot."
Tonga roared into the second half with a forwards' try for Kisi Pulu and – after scores for Juan Smith, Bob Skinstad and Ruan Pienaar – got the crowd on their feet with tries from Sukanaivalu Hufanga and Viliami Vaki. "It was unbelievable the way the majority of the crowd in Lens supported us," said the centre Epi Taione. "We hope the French people will do the same for us against England."
South Africa: Tries Pienaar 2, Smith, Skinstad; Conversions Pretorius, Montgomery; Penalties Steyn, Montgomery. Tonga: Tries Pulu, Hufanga, Vaki; Conversions Hola 2; Penalties Hola 2.
South Africa: R Pienaar; A Willemse, W Olivier, W Julies, JP Pietersen; A Pretorius, R Januarie; G Steenkamp, G Botha, CJ van der Linde, B Botha, A van den Berg, W van Heerden, D Rossouw, B Skinstad (capt). Replacements: J Smith for Rossouw, 24-30; 49; J Smit for G Botha, 46; BJ Botha for Steenkamp, 46; V Matfield for Van den Berg, 46; B Habana for Willemse, 46; F Steyn for Julies, 46.
Tonga: V Lilo; T Tu'ifua, S Hufanga, E Taione, J Vaka; P Hola, S Tu'ipulotu; S Tonga'uiha, A Lutui, K Pulu, P Hehea, E Kauhenga, V Vaki, N Latu (capt), F Maka. Replacements: I Afeaki for Kauhenga, 50-66; for Hehea, 66; E Taukafa for Lutui, 66; L Filipine for Latu, 66; S Havea for Tu'ipulotu, 66; A Havili for Vaka, 73; I Tupou for Taione, 77.
Referee: W Barnes (England).