Turner stars in Australia A victory
May 25, 2007

Lachlan Turner scored three tries on his debut as Australia A turned a slender half time lead into a 60-15 victory over Tonga in their IRB Pacific Nations Cup opener at Aussie Stadium in Sydney on Friday.

The speedy wing, who only turned 20 earlier this month and had just been named Australia's Super 14 Rookie of the Year after making his debut halfway through, scored the first of his three tries within minutes of the restart and Australia A never looked back.

They scored seven tries in the second half with rugby league converts Ryan Cross and Clinton Schifcofske joining Turner and Peter Hewat in crossing the try line, the latter two at the home of their Super 14 side the NSW Waratahs.

Schifcofske, just like his fellow wing Turner, had a debut to remember with a personal tally of 23 points in the victory after kicking two penalties and six conversions to go with his try.

Australia A coach Laurie Fisher will also have been pleased with the return of Sam Cordingley to the national colours, the scrum half growing in confidence as the game progressed having been sidelined for the last 10 months with a foot injury.

They may have run out comfortable winners in the end on their IRB Pacific Nations Cup debut, but it was Tonga who started the match brightly and took the lead in the seventh minute when wing Seti Kiole rounded off a well-constructed try.

The sides traded penalties through Schifcofske and Tonga fly half Fangatapu Apikotoa, before a try by hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau gave Australia A the advantage at half time, albeit only 13-8.

Australia A did the damage though in the third quarter, scoring four tries and 26 points to the delight of the near 6,000 crowd at Aussie Stadium.

To their credit though the Tongans refused to give up, despite having two players in the sin-bin, and centre Isileli Tupou carried two defenders over the line to score five minutes from time.

The man of the match award went to Turner, like flanker David Pocock and replacement scrum half Josh Holmes, members of the first Australian side to win the win the IRB Under 19 World Championship title in 2006.

Both sides now move on to Coffs Harbour for a double header on Saturday 2 June, when Tonga play Japan at the BCU International Stadium at 1.30pm local time, followed by Australia A against Samoa 3.30pm.

In the meantime, though, the opening round of the Pacific Nations Cup continues on Saturday when Fiji face Japan in Lautoka and Samoa welcome defending champions, the Junior All Blacks, to Apia looking to build on their 8-3 defeat of Fiji last weekend.

AUSTRALIA A: 1. Nic Henderson 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau 3. Troy Takiari 4. Will Caldwell 5. Alister Campbell (Captain) 6. Dean Mumm 7. David Pocock 8. Jone Tawake 9. Sam Cordingley 10. Berrick Barnes 11. Lachie Turner 12. Ryan Cross 13. Junior Pelesasa 14. Clinton Schifcofske 15. Peter Hewat.

Replacements: 16. Sean Hardman 17. Gareth Hardy 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison 19. Julian Salvi 20. Josh Holmes 21. Gene Fairbanks 22. Kurtley Beale.

TONGA: 1. Makoni Finau 2. Alevi Lutui 3. Tevita Taumoepeau 4. Sione Kalamafoni 5. Isileli Fine 6. Teu'i'muu 7. Nili Latu (Captain) 8. Hale T Pole 9. Tevita Palu 10. Fangatapu Apikotoa 11. Aisea Havili 12. Kaiongo Tupou 13. Hudson Tongauiha 14. Seti Kiole 15. Sila Vaenuku.

Replacements: 16. Patrick Tamoua 17. Sateki Matau 18. Tevita Tanginoa 19. Naisa Sikalu 20. Sikaleli Ahoafi 21. Setaleki Luau 22. Sione Fonua.

Australia A: 60
Tries: Lachlan Turner (3), Ryan Cross (2), Tatafu Polota-Nau, Peter Hewat, Clinton Schifcofske
Conversions: Clinton Schifcofske (6), Peter Hewat
Penalties: Clinton Schifcofske (2)

Tonga: 15
Tries: Seti Kiole, Isileli Tupou
Conversions: Fangatapu Apikotoa
Penalties: Fangatapu Apikotoa

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