Tonga have scored five second-half tries to upset New Zealand 28-22 in a thrilling contest in front of a packed house at Waikato Stadium.

New Zealand had earlier scored three first-half tries to head into the sheds leading 16-2.

But that half-time deficit seemed to spur the Tongans on in the second half. They became more adventurous in attack to chase points and that approach paid off for them.

The defence from both teams in the first half was intense, but the Kiwis looked more dangerous in attack in the first forty minutes.

The Tongans opened the scoring with an early penalty goal, but New Zealand scored the first try in the 20th minute. Winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak used his pace to score out wide after getting a good ball from centre Dean Whare.

The Kiwis were in again eight minutes later after a brilliant kick return from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gave them the field position for an attacking raid. Later in the set, New Zealand spun the ball wide for winger Jordan Rapana to score in the corner.

The Tongans almost hit back just before half-time with Daniel Tupou showing brilliant hands to score in the corner, but an earlier pass in the movement was ruled forward.

New Zealand then scored on the stroke of half-time, with centre Brad Takairangi ruled to have not been held before offloading to Tuivasa-Sheck to score.

The Tongans needed to be first to score in the second half and they did that after eight minutes when winger David Fusitua leapt spectacularly to take a cross-field kick and plant the ball down in the corner.

That was to be the first of three second-half tries for Fusitua. In the 59th minute, he scored his second when centre Konrad Hurrell turned the ball inside to him and the New Zealand defence opened up.

Just three minutes later, the Tongans hit the front when five-eighth Tui Lolohea intercepted a stray New Zealand pass and raced 40 metres to score under the posts. The successful conversion made it 18-16, but there was still 17 minutes to go.

In the 65th minute, interchange forward Ben Murdoch-Masila cracked the Kiwis’ defence again before turning the ball inside and putting fullback Will Hopoate over.

New Zealand hit back to make it 24-22 with eight minutes to go. They threw the ball around desperately before Roger Tuivasa-Scheck straightened the attack and used his footwork to score beside the posts.

But Fusitua iced the game for the Tongans with his third try in the 78th minute, after getting a great inside ball from Hurrell.

There was a huge amount of support for the Tongans in the crowd, and they got the upset they wanted after things were looking grim at half-time.

The win means that Tonga finishes at the top of Pool B and will most likely have an easier quarter-final against Lebanon next week, assuming the results of Pool A over the weekend go as expected.

The Kiwis will now have a harder assignment against Fiji in their quarter-final next week.

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The Crowd Says (22)

  • November 11th 2017 @ 5:44pm
    chappy said | November 11th 2017 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

    Loved it! Best game!

    Congratulation Tonga!!!

  • November 11th 2017 @ 5:50pm
    Tom G said | November 11th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

    Excellent game and well-deserved result for Tonga. Personally I’d love to see a regular five nations series featuring Aust/NZ/Tonga/Samoa/Fiji/PNG could lead to a real revitalisation of international rep league and could be quite lucrative.. unfortunately, it may not be practical from a player welfare perspective.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 7:42pm
      Dave_S said | November 11th 2017 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

      Yes especially if players are allowed to be dual internationals and represent their country of heritage.

      Call it Country of Origin, put up a trophy and watch the “minor” nations rip into Aus and NZ

      • November 11th 2017 @ 9:11pm
        Maestro said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

        Country of Origin would mean they would have had to have played their RL in the country before 13. None would qualify. Gerard Sutton gave all the decisions to Tonga in second half as the penalty counter dropped from the TV screen and the “home” ground played the Tongan song over the PA – what – is this an exhibition game? The Tongan announced squad doesn’t have the club they play for – Only Kata learnt his Rugby Union in Tonga – the rest are NZers?

        • November 11th 2017 @ 10:41pm
          Kavvy said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

          Bet you’re fun at parties, sheesh

          • November 12th 2017 @ 8:53am
            Justin Kearney said | November 12th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

            He’s not invited to parties.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 12:46am
          old nomad said | November 12th 2017 @ 12:46am | ! Report

          i think Dave meant allowing the teams to be country of heritage – outside the WC – so all the kiwi born pacific players not selected by NZ (or not identifying with the kiwis) could play for the Islands…
          This only works if there are more games for Island nations outside WC years.

        • Roar Guru

          November 12th 2017 @ 10:09am
          Nat said | November 12th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          Oh League is so bad! He must say the same thing every day on every thread, Yes Maestro, we can all hear the one stone rattle around in your empty can.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 11:29am
          Fred said | November 12th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          Where’s Konrad Hurrell from you pest?

          • November 13th 2017 @ 2:57pm
            Maestro said | November 13th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

            Another ex RU player from Tonga – true – 2 well done but still didn’t play RL in Tonga. Cedric , a RL person, agrees with the Sutton reffing performance or don’t you watch the game with any depth – just cheer for the penalties..

  • November 11th 2017 @ 8:06pm
    dave said | November 11th 2017 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

    It was the best game of the tournament and the viewers were treated to two very good professional teams full of skill speed talent and motivation..
    The much maligned Tumalomo and Fifita played very well and gave the Tongans the self belief that they needed to cause such a big upset and beat the Kiwis. These two men honoured their family heritage and greatly added to the effectiveness of the Tongans and should be appreciated for making the match such a great game. I thought that the Kiwis half time score of 16/2 indicated the the Tongans could not score against the Kiwi defence and this proved so false after things started to fall their way the Tongans took the game by the scruff of the neck and won.
    Rugby league was the winner of this game and many would go to the rugby to watch such a good game. I would not be surprised if we find more Tongans playing league in Australia.

  • November 12th 2017 @ 12:58am
    Dean said | November 12th 2017 @ 12:58am | ! Report

    The Kiwis can rightly feel peeved with five? of the Tongan side all born in NZ and have played for the Kiwis before this tournament. The Kiwis should play hardball and not pick any of those players for future test matches. Tonga’s test matches are few and far between. Kiwis need to send a warning to players coming through the ranks. I don’t know how any player can decide that his preference would be to play against his place of birth. Very disrespectful. Different if not picked for their national squad.Having said all that, that looked sensational on tv , I couldn’t believe the fans. It looked like a Tonga home game as well. RTS and Sean Johnson were sensational for the losing side. Roger looked dangerous everytime he touched the ball. I’m not going to write the Kiwis off after that loss. I think they will have learned a lot af today. If Tonga make it through to the final they won’t have the support that they had today in the stands.

    • November 12th 2017 @ 1:31am
      Dave said | November 12th 2017 @ 1:31am | ! Report

      They all played for tonga Before been picked for the kiwi’s

      Tonga vs Lebanon Quat (Christchurch Nz)
      Tonga vs England Semi (Auckland Nz)


      • November 12th 2017 @ 5:07pm
        Davico's filthy conscience said | November 12th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

        Taumololo played for the junior Kiwis, so that’s a lie right there. You’re probably lying about the rest as well.

  • November 12th 2017 @ 7:51am
    Taurangaboy said | November 12th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

    What a great game it was .. and I’m a Kiwi!

  • Roar Guru

    November 12th 2017 @ 9:54am
    Nat said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

    Great game. I didn’t think Tonga would do it especially after Kiwis dominated the first half. DWZ played the SKD role of poor defensive decisions so I hope Nightingale gets the jumper he’s earned back. Was fun to watch Asofa-Solomona get fired up (Brad Thorn anyone!) TVS played his best game in a while as well.

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