Tonga beats Hong Kong to qualify for 2023 Rugby World Cup

July 23, 2022 GMT
FILE - Tonga's rugby union coach Toutai Kefu watches his players warm up ahead of their Rugby World Cup Pool C game at Hanazono Rugby Stadium against Argentina in Osaka, Japan, Sept. 28, 2019. Tonga or Hong Kong will be Rugby World Cup-bound after a qualifying match on Queensland state's Sunshine Coast on Saturday, July 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, FILE)
FILE - Tonga's rugby union coach Toutai Kefu watches his players warm up ahead of their Rugby World Cup Pool C game at Hanazono Rugby Stadium against Argentina in Osaka, Japan, Sept. 28, 2019. Tonga or Hong Kong will be Rugby World Cup-bound after a qualifying match on Queensland state's Sunshine Coast on Saturday, July 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, FILE)
FILE - Tonga's rugby union coach Toutai Kefu watches his players warm up ahead of their Rugby World Cup Pool C game at Hanazono Rugby Stadium against Argentina in Osaka, Japan, Sept. 28, 2019. Tonga or Hong Kong will be Rugby World Cup-bound after a qualifying match on Queensland state's Sunshine Coast on Saturday, July 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, FILE)
FILE - Tonga's rugby union coach Toutai Kefu watches his players warm up ahead of their Rugby World Cup Pool C game at Hanazono Rugby Stadium against Argentina in Osaka, Japan, Sept. 28, 2019. Tonga or Hong Kong will be Rugby World Cup-bound after a qualifying match on Queensland state's Sunshine Coast on Saturday, July 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, FILE)
FILE - Tonga's rugby union coach Toutai Kefu watches his players warm up ahead of their Rugby World Cup Pool C game at Hanazono Rugby Stadium against Argentina in Osaka, Japan, Sept. 28, 2019. Tonga or Hong Kong will be Rugby World Cup-bound after a qualifying match on Queensland state's Sunshine Coast on Saturday, July 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, FILE)

KAWANA WATERS, Australia (AP) — Tonga has advanced to next year’s Rugby World Cup in France after a 44-22 win over Hong Kong in the final of an Asia Pacific qualifying tournament on Saturday.

Tonga led 20-8 at halftime. Sonatane Takulua scored two first-half tries and added a third in the second half at the 10,000-seat Sunshine Coast Stadium north of Brisbane.

Tonga will play in Pool B in France with defending champion South Africa, No. 1-ranked Ireland, Scotland and Romania.

Hong Kong can still qualify for France via a second-chance tournament in Dubai in November. A four-team tournament also involving the United States, Kenya and Portugal will determine the 20th team, with the winner joining Pool C with Wales, two-time champion Australia, Georgia and Fiji.

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