Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Tonga see off Kiwis

Tonga see off Kiwis

New Zealand go into the game as favourites but punters aren't giving up hope on Tonga.

And with victory in the bag Woolf sees no reason why Tonga can not lift the trophy on December 2.

"What I do know is that we've got a group of good blokes here - a lot of people have singled out the guys who have been names in the NRL and we do have a number of those, but there's a lot of guys there really playing to their potential".

"That's what we want for worldwide footy - yes, it happened to be (us), but we're on this path and we're committed", Kiwis coach David Kidwell said.

"Many of them have travelled down from Auckland and it's been absolutely fantastic, an absolute pleasure to have them here".

But Tonga came storming back in the second half, scoring 22 unanswered points to hit the front following a breathtaking spell of rugby.

Tonga was leading early in the game with a penalty goal converted by Siosiua Taukeiaho in the fifth minute.

A clever read saw him pick Russell Packer's wayward pass off just after the hour, for a try which seemed to confirm Tonga's dominance in the match, with the Kiwis seemingly having no answer to Lolohea's skill on the ball. View the New Zealand vs Tonga Preview.

Packer's inexplicable looping pass inside his own 40 just after the hour then gifted Lolohea an intercept try, as the Kiwis melted under the pressure at Waikato Stadium.

However, captain Sika Manu insisted they were entitled to do so after their hosts encroached into Tongan territory.

It was also Tonga's first victory against a top-tier nation at the World Cup as they look ahead to a last-eight meeting against either Lebanon or France, while the Kiwis will face Fiji.

After just a year and a half in the top job with the Kiwis, coach David Kidwell has overseen two historic occasions for New Zealand, although neither will be featuring on his CV anytime soon.

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