George Carmont and Harrison Hansen inspired Samoa to a fine win over Tonga as they opened their World Cup bid in style in a marvellous match in Newcastle.
They took the Pacific Island bragging rights as they shaded a thrilling contest against their fierce rivals emerging 20-12 victors after a predictably ferocious encounter.
After a terrific war dance by both sides, the Samoans, with a fair sprinkling off Super League players, raced into an early 10-0 lead courtesy of tries from St Helens winger Francis Meli and skipper and former Warrington half-back, Nigel Vagana.
But Tonga fought back admirably and hit the front after converted scores of their own from Michael Jennings and Tevita Leo-Latu with Tony Williams adding the extras..
Samoa responded again and were in front at the interval as Matt Utai touched down in the corner and then a score from George Carmont, who also had a try ruled out for a forward pass.
The pace of the game was relentless, especially in a breathless second half, and now the victory will see them progress from Group C provided they beat Ireland in their final match.
Samoa (14) 20
Tries: Meli, Vagana, Utai, Carmont. Goals: Roberts (2).
Tonga (12) 12
Tries: Jennings, Leo-Latu. Goals: Williams (2).
Tonga: Michael Jennings, Cooper Vuna, Fetuli Talanoa, Etuate Uasisele, Esikeli Tonga, Feleti Mateo, Joel Taufaao, Antonio Kaufusi, Tevita Leo-Latu, Awen Guttenbeil, Lopini Paea (capt), Richard Faaoso, Willie Manu. Interchange: Tony Williams, Manase Manuokafoa, Epalahame Lauaki, Sam Moa, Mickey Paea.
Samoa: Smith Samau, Francis Meli, George Carmont, Willie Talau, Matt Utai, Nigel Vagana (capt), Ben Roberts, Kylie Leuluai, Terrence Seuseu, Tony Puletua, David Solomona, Lagi Setu, Harrison Hansen. Interchange: Frank Puletua, David Faiumu, Joseph Paulo, Ali Lauitiiti, Alby Talipeau.