Tonga push England to edge of defeat but ref refuses try that would have secured finals berth

Tongan fans will always believe that the Mate Ma’a won tonight’s game.

No matter that the referee had blown the whistle for full time, fans will know in their hearts
that Andrew Fifita’s last minute try should have given them the victory they deserved.

But Mate Ma’a should not feel disappointed at their 18-20 loss. As good sportsmen they
have accepted the referee’s decision knowing that they went further than any Tongan
league team has gone before.

They won four games in a row and but for the referee’s whistle would have won tonight’s
game and been the first Pacific team to make the finals.

Tongan winger Konrad Hurrell said earlier this week: “It was our first quarter-final last week and this is our first semi-final as well – imagine if we make the final, it would be crazy.”

That wasn’t to be, but the Mate Ma’a have reason to be proud they pushed England to the
brink of defeat.

The Guardian quoted Sika Manu as saying, in what the newspaper described as a “classy”
response: “It was a tough loss to take.

The boys have played really well this tournament.

“I hope England go well [in the final against Australia]. They’ve been good the whole
tournament and they showed their class tonight.”

Jermaine McGillvary scored the first try in the ninth minute with a conversion by Gareth
Widdop.

Widdop scored in the 15 th minute and converted successfully.

John Bateman scored in the 66 th minute with Widdop converting again.

Tevita Pangai Junior hit back for Tonga in the 72 nd minute with Sio Siua Taukeiaho
converting.

Siliva Havili struck again for Tonga four minutes later Taukeiaho converting.

A minute later it was Tuimoala Lolohea to put the ball over the line with Taukeiaho
converting.

As Kaniva News reported yesterday, the president of the Mate Ma’a Tonga Rugby League
Association invited King Tupou VI and Prime Minister ’Akilisi Pohiva to attend the match.

Tongan singer Dinah Jane sang the Tongan national anthem before the match.

Tonight’s game was sold out, with Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium, drawing the biggest Rugby League crowd at that venue in 22 years.

Organisers expected 30,000 people to attend.

It was the highest attendance at Mt Smart Stadium since 1995 when the Warriors attracted huge crowds in their inaugural season in the NRL.

England fielded an unchanged side from last week’s 36-6 win over Papua New Guinea.
The Mate Ma’a fielded a largely unchanged side. Sio Siua Taukeiaho returned from injury to
the front row.

The main points

  • Tongan fans will always believe that the Mate Ma’a won tonight’s game.
  • No matter that the referee had blown the whistle for full time, fans will know in their
    hearts that Fifita’s last minute try should have given them the victory they deserved.
  • Now England will go up against Australia in the Rugby League World Cup final in
    Brisbane.
  • As good sportsmen the Mate Ma’a will accept the referee’s decision knowing that
    they went further than any Tongan league team has gone before.

For more information  
Rugby League World Cup
Sika honours Tongan heritage as Police issue warning ahead of semi-final
Match Preview: Tonga vs England
Tonga v England: Rugby League World Cup 2017 semi-final – live!

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