2nd tier Tonga blew the Rugby World Cup open on Saturday morning in Hamilton with a shock 28-22 win over their hosts and former World cup winners New Zealand. The Pacific Islanders came from 16-2 behind at the half time break to make history as the 1st ever tier two team to defeat one of the tier one teams in the 60 plus years the competition has been held.
The game had already been ear marked within the schedule due to the amount of tension between the two teams as several former New Zealand players had decided to use the loop holes in Rugby Leagues international rules to represent Tonga in this world cup. This included one of the world’s best players in Dally M winner and 2016 Golden boot nominee Jason Taumalolo.
New Zealand raced into a commanding half time lead thanks to tries from Watene-Zeleniak, Rapana and Tuivasa-Sheck, with Tonga only having a penalty from Taukeiaho to their name.
However, the second half was a completely different story as Tonga opened the scoring minutes after the restart with Fusitu’a crossing and the conversion made it 16-8.
Then Tonga blew the game wide open with 3 tries in 5 minutes as Fusitu’a notched his 2nd, Lolohea was on hand to intercept the ball and race under the sticks before a Murdoch-Masila break found Captain William Hopoate to cross to make it 16-24 to Tonga.
The kiwis re-gathered themselves to score the next try with Full back Tuivasa-Sheck crossing for his 2nd of the match to make it a two-point ball game, but with 3 minutes remaining the ball was feed out to Fusitu’a to complete his hat trick and ensure history was made.
The result means that Tonga now go through as Group B winners and will play Lebanon in the quarter finals with a semi-final clash against the winners of PNG and England, while the Kiwi’s now face a much harder journey to the finals with a quarter final game against the tournaments highest points scorers Fiji with the winners taking on the winners of Australia and Samoa in the other Semi-final.