Sonatane Takulua slotted an 81st minute penalty to clinch a dramatic 19-17 win for Tonga over Italy in Padova on Saturday.
Takulua was his side’s hero as he finished with a 14-point haul, thanks to four penalties and a conversion, although the Azzurri outscored the Pacific islanders by two tries to two.
Italy dominated the early exchanges and raced into a 7-0 lead when Lorenzo Cittadini crossed for their opening try which Carlo Canna converted in the 13th minute.
Takulua added the first of his penalties in the 32nd minute which meant the hosts held a slender lead at the interval. Five minutes after the restart, he slotted another three-pointer which made it a one-point ball-game and they soon took the lead when Siale Piutau scored their five-pointer in the 51st minute.
Italy did not take that lying down and regained the lead shortly afterwards when Tommaso Allan went over for their second try which he converted himself.
Takulua put his side back in front, when he slotted his third penalty in the 71st minute, but Italy clawed their way back when Edoardo Padovani converted a place-kick three minutes before the end.
The closing stages was a tense affair and Takula held his nerve to break Italian hearts with his matchwinning kick in injury time.
Tries: Cittadini, Allan
Cons: Canna, Allan
Pens: Takulua 4
Italy (revised): 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ornel Gega, 1 Sami Panico
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 George Biagi, 20 Abraham Steyn, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Thomas Allan, 23 Michele Campagnaro
Tonga: David Halaifonua, 14 Nafi Tu’Itavake, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Latiume Fosita, 11 Fetu’U Vainikolo, 10 Kali Hala, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Tevita Koloamatangi, 7 Jack Ram, 6 Dan Faleafa, 5 Jon Tu’Ineau, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Tevita Mailau
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Paea Fa’Anunu, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Valentino Mapapalangi, 20 Kotoni Ale, 21 Tomasi Palu, 22 Tevita Taufui, 23 Cooper Vuna