Tonga and Fiji Through

Australia, England, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are the five automatic entrants for the thirteenth Rugby League World Cup with the other five entrants being determined through regional qualifying tournaments.

The Tongans’ win ensured their passage down under, along with Fiji who finished second in the Pacific table, while Samoa have a second chance through next year’s repechage round.

Samoa would have qualified for the tournament proper had they not lost by more than six points, meaning that Tangi Ropati’s missed goal was to prove crucial,

Both sides finished with two tries apiece, but Tonga’s Joel Taufa’ao kicked three crucial goals.

The game also doubles up as a Federation Shield encounter with Tonga taking the two points ahead of England’s win over France.

Meanwhile, Ireland put themselves in the driving seat for a place down under in 2008 with a comfortable nine try victory against Russia in Moscow in the opening game of the European qualifiers.

Phil Cantillon and Stuart Littler scored two tries apiece, with Chris Bridge grabbing a brace along with seven goals, Gavin Dodd chipping in with a hat-trick.

Valentin Baskakov, Robert Iliassov and Roman Ovchinnikos all touched down in vain for an outclassed Bear outfit, who trailed 26-4 at the half-time interval.

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