With a very vocal crowd on hand at Campbelltown Stadium cheering on, both Tonga and Cook Islands preformed their pre-game war dances. Passions were high as the Tongan team walked forward to meet the advancing Cook Islands during their war dance. The reply from Tonga saw officials keep the Cook Islands team back 10 metres to avoid any overflow of passion before kick-off.
The Cook islands got off to a flying start in the World Cup qualifier on the back of some handling errors from Tonga during their first set of six. Four minutes into the match the Cooks played the ball just shy of the Tongan try line and spread the ball right quickly taking the Tongan defence by surprise. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad crossed in the right corner for the Cooks Islands putting them out in front early. Jordan Rapana missed the conversion from the side line leaving the score at 4 – 0.
It wasn’t long before Tonga replied when in the 12 minute Jorge Taufua scored in the left corner to equal the score. Solomone Kata converted from the side line to put Tonga in front 4 – 6.
On the back of a repeat set in the 24th minute Anthony Gelling went in out wide crossing in the right corner to reclaim the lead for the Cooks. Jordan Rapana missed the conversion from the side line giving Cooks a narrow 2 point lead 8 – 6.
In the 34th minute on the back of a comedy of errors from both teams the Cooks dropped the ball and Mahe Fonua collected and ran straight through the Cook Islands defence to score under the posts. Solomone Kata converted to put Tonga back in the lead going into half time 8 – 12. With two tries a piece and conversions making the difference the teams headed for the sheds to the applaud of the crowd who just witnessed a very entertaining end to end first half of footy.
Both teams continued the brutal contest in the 2nd half with the 4813 fans in the crowd feeling every tackle as the teams battled towards a 2017 Rugby League World Cup place. Fans had to wait until the 62nd minute to see the next try when Solomone Kata scored out wide on the right-hand side. With the Tongan fans cheering in the background Solomone Kata missed the conversion 8 – 16.
Solomone Kata crossed again just right of the posts in the 68th minute to put Tonga further in front and all but confirming their place in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Solomone Kata converted his own try 8 – 22.
With a win and place in the World Cup out of reach for the Cooks the flood gates opened and Peni Terepo crossed in the 74th minute with Solomone Kata converting to increase Tonga’s lead 8 – 28.
Tonga now join Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, England, Fiji, France, Samoa and Scotland who have all qualified for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup
Tonga 28 (Solomone Kata 2, Jorge Taufua, Mahe Fonua, Peni Terepo Tries; Solomone Kata 4 Goals)
Cook Islands 8 (Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Anthony Gelling Tries)
Half Time Cook Islands 8 – Tonga 12
Full Time Cook Island 8 – Tonga 28
Cook Islands Team
1 Jordan Rapana Canberra Raiders
2 Drury Low Narellan Jets
3 Anthony Gelling Wigan Warriors
4 Chance Peni Wests Tigers
5 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad Melbourne Storm
6 Jono Ford Wyong Roos
7 Wallace Tangiiti South Sydney Rabbitohs
8 Uiti Baker Manly Sea Eagles
9 Aaron Teroi Melbourne Storm
10 Sam Mataora Newcastle Knights
11 Esan Marsters Wests Tigers
12 Makahesi Makatoa Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
13 Francis Molo Brisbane Broncos
14 Carne Doyle-Manga Wyong Roos
15 Vincent Rennie Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
16 Vinny Ngaro Manly Sea Eagles
17 Fred Pakutoa Wentworthville Magpies
Coach Alex Chan Wentworthville Magpies
1 Solomone Kata New Zealand Warriors
2 Jorge Taufua Manly Sea Eagles
3 Mahe Fonua Melbourne Storm
4 Moses Pangai Townsville Blackhawks
5 Delouise Hoeter Wests Tigers
6 Pat Politoni Cronulla Sharks
7 Daniel Foster Penrith Panthers
8 Albert Vete New Zealand Warriors
9 Joel Luani Wests Tigers
10 Peni Terepo Parramatta Eels
11 Sika Manu Penrith Panthers
12 Manu Ma’u Parramatta Eels
13 Joe Ofahengaue Brisbane Broncos
14 Nafe Seluine Burleigh Bears
15 Ukuma Ta’ai Huddersfield Giants
16 Ben Murdoch-Masila Penrith Panthers
17 David Fifita Cronulla Sharks
Coach Kristian Woolf Townsville Blackhawks