RLWC: Tonga and Samoa stay alive

Mate Maa Tonga and Toa Samoa have both kept their Rugby League World Cup campaigns alive over the past two days. Photo: Photosport


The Samoans rebounded from their 24-42 loss to the Kiwis by beating Papua New Guinea 38-4 in Workington yesterday while the Tongans held on to beat the Cook Islands 22-16 in Leigh early today (NZT).


The net effect of the results is that Samoa is effectively through to the quarter-finals while Tonga still needs outside help to make it.


The way Group B stands now, the Kiwis are top with four points and are set to make it to six points with an expected victory over winless Papua New Guinea in Leeds on Saturday morning (NZT). Toa Samoa is second on two points with a points-for-and-against differential of plus 16 with France also on two points but with a vastly inferior points-for-and-against differential of minus 47.


A win over France next Tuesday morning (NZT) would seal second spot Samoa while a loss would still enable it to move into the last eight as the third place finisher. If Samoa secures second spot it would meet the third-placed Group A team most likely Fiji and if it finishes third it would face the runner-up in Group A, which should be England.


Tongas hopes are far less certain.


Only the winners of Group C (Tongas group) and Group D advance to the quarter-finals, taking the places of the bottom teams in Group A (Ireland) and B (Papua New Guinea).


Tongas win over the Cook Islands still leaves it third and last in Group C on two points with Italy and Scotland ahead on three points.


If theyre to have any chance of winning the group, the Tongans must first worry about the Scots; they need Scotland to lose or at worst draw with the United States on Friday leaving Tonga with the mission of beating Italy on Monday (NZT) to advance.


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If they ultimately miss out the Tongans will be left ruefully reflecting on their shock loss to Scotland last week.


At least their effort against the Cook Islands today has them heading in the right direction.


They started strongly with another early try for Vodafone Warriors fullback Glen Fisiiahi before this turned into a top contest.


With ex-Vodafone Warrior Isaac John pulling the strings, the Cooks struck back with two tries to left winger Chris Taripo to lead 10-6 before Tonga surged ahead 18-10 with storming tries to former Junior Kiwi Jason Taumalolo and Vodafone Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell.


The Cook Islands closed it up to 16-18 in the opening minutes of the second half when Taripo scored his third try and converted to give him all of his sides points.


Tonga stretched to six points with a Jorge Taufua try and then it was desperation time for both sides, the Tongans finally hanging on to end the Cook Islands hopes and ensure the United States booked a place in the quarter-finals as the top team in Group D.


Four Vodafone Warriors featured in todays match Konrad Hurrell and Glen Fisiiahi for Tonga and Dominique Peyroux and Eko Malu for the Cook Islands, Malu making his Test debut.


In yesterdays match, Pita Godinet and Suaia Matagi were again in the starting line-up while Vodafone Junior Warrior Michael Sio made his Test debut off the bench.


Match details:


At Leigh Sports Village, Leigh

Mate Maa Tonga 22 (Glen Fisiiahi, Jason Taumalolo, Konrad Hurrell, Jorge Taufua tries; Samisoni Langi 2 conversions, penalty).

Cook Islands 16 (Chris Taripo 3 tries, 2 conversions).

Halftime: 18-10 Tonga.

Referee: Ashley Klein (Australia).

Man of the match (joint): Ukuma Ta'ai (Mate Ma'a Tonga) and Chris Taripo (Cook Islands).

Crowd: 10,544.


At Craven Park, Hull

Papua New Guinea 4 (Jessie Joe Nandye try).

Toa Samoa 38 (Antonio Winterstein 3, Suaia Matagi, Pita Godinet, Ben Roberts, Sauaso Sue tries; Anthony Milford 5 conversions).

Halftime: 28-0 Samoa.

Referee: Shayne Hayne (Australia).

Man of the match: Anthony Milford (Toa Samoa).

Crowd: 6782.