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Tonga coach Mana Otai hopes numbers add up for the Sea Eagles

Published 29/09/2015

Tonga coach Mana Otai feels the Pacific Islanders are back in contention to qualify
Tonga coach Mana Otai feels the Pacific Islanders are back in contention to qualify

Tonga coach Mana Otai expects the calculators to be taken out in Pool C after the Sea Eagles moved back into World Cup contention with victory over Namibia.

Otai's side were shock losers in their World Cup opener against Georgia in Gloucester 10 days ago, but they scored five tries in a 35-21 win at Exeter's Sandy Park.

The bonus-point success took Tonga above both Georgia and Argentina, who they meet next in Leicester on Sunday, and into second place behind pool leaders New Zealand.

"This was hugely important, not just the victory but also to get the five points," Otai said.

"After Georgia we keep saying the dream is still alive, and I guess gaining five points is another step forward to that.

"We've still got two more games to go and there could be a little bit of mathematics, getting the calculators out and working out the points.

"We have six points now and we won't be able to find out more until the weekend, but we'll go into it with an advantage points-wise and from there it's how we strategise for Argentina and the All Blacks."

Tonga might have scored the most tries in their World Cup history in a single game, b ut it came against the tournament's lowest-ranked team and the Pacific Islanders remain outsiders to make the quarter-finals for the first time.

Argentina, who lost 26-16 to New Zealand, were impressive in their 54-9 demolition of Georgia and will be expected to finish runners-up in the pool to the All Blacks.

"I am pleased with the way we progressed from Georgia," Otai said.

"It's going to be another huge level going into Argentina and we've got a lot of work before then.

"I am happy with the outcome of this game but in terms of performance and goals we know we've left a lot of tries out there on the field.

"Credit to Namibia for pressure they put on us and way they reacted as well, but we could have finished another five of those off."

Namibia have now failed to win any of their 17 World Cup matches since making their debut in the tournament in 1999.

But the Africans scored three tries, two of them from their inspirational back row skipper Jacques Burger, and might have claimed their first ever World Cup point but for a knock-on denying them the opportunity of a fourth try.

"I'm very proud of the way we tried to play rugby," said Namibia's Welsh coach Phil Davies.

"The players put in a huge physical effort against a big Tongan side and we always tried to play and get over the line.

"They were very dominant at scrum time and hard to stop when carrying the ball, but it's disappointing we perhaps didn't get closer at the end.

"I can't fault the effort and commitment of the players but Tonga were just too good for us.

"But we just keep moving forward, we're developing, and we've got two games left to get that elusive win we're after. It won't be for the want of trying, that's for sure."

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