By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 11/11/13
Tonga has snuffed out Italy’s quarter-final destiny with New Zealand on a memorable night in Halifax.
Tonga saved its best for its last game of the World Cup, keeping the Italians scoreless and posting 16 points in reply.
Playing for pride, the Pacific Islanders were an awesome sight throwing themselves into tackles and carries with the ball. With the crowd of 10,266 at their backs, the Tongans did Scotland a massive favour with the Bravehearts now meeting the Kiwis in Leeds instead of Italy. Fui Fui Moi Moi in particular was immense for the Mate Ma’a.
The first half was a nervous encounter, both sides cautious and not wanting to give too much away. A successful Samsoni Langi penalty after 39 minutes was the only thing that separated them after at the break.
But just six minutes after half-time Tonga went 8-0 ahead thanks to a bashing run from Willie Manu. On 63 minutes Daniel Foster turned the knife in with a snappy dart over to score Tonga’s second try. There was a hint of double movement, but the try was given and Italy was left to rue several contentious refereeing decisions that didn’t go their way.
To their credit, the Italians did not give up and keep trying things for the full 80 minutes. But it just wasn’t their night, their execution let them down and the final passes just didn’t stick.
The Azzurri’s great run during this World Cup, combined with that great shock beating England in a warm-up, went heart-breakingly close to the next round but ultimately just fell short.
Tonga defended like their lives depended on it and Italy just couldn’t break through that red wall. But both teams can leave the tournament knowing that they have entertained and showed pride in their national colours.
Tonga 16, Tries: Manu, Foster, Terepo, Goals: Langi (2).