Samoa qualified for their ninth successive Rugby World Cup with a 79-28 aggregate victory over Tonga, winning the second leg of their Oceania playoff 37-15 in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Samoans, who claimed the first leg 42-13 in Auckland last week, were challenged by the Tongans after dominating the first half but late tries to Stacey Ili and Kalolo Tuiloma secured their ticket to France in 2023 on a wet and windy afternoon.
“Very satisfying, the last four weeeks we’ve been building to this game,” said Samoa captain Michael Alaalatoa.
“So proud of the boys … we’ve been able to achieve what we came here to do.
“We made it harder for ourselves in the second half … Credit to the boys they were able to stick to it and get some points to get back on top in the end.”
Samoa will join England, Argentina, Japan and an Americas qualifier in Pool D in France.
Tonga will face Cook Islands in Pukekohe, New Zealand on July 24 for the right to play the Asian champions – Hong Kong, South Korea or Malaysia – for a spot in Pool B at the World Cup.
Samoa have competed at every World Cup since the 1991 edition, twice reaching the quarter-finals, while Tonga only missed the 1991 tournament.