80:00
Sat 11 November 2017
FMG Stadium Waikato - Crowd: 24041

Fusitua hat trick of tries breaks the Kiwi's hearts

A phenomenal fightback by Tonga in the final quarter of the game has seen them cap their first ever victory over New Zealand in a match which lived up to the hype.

An amazing atmosphere greeted both teams as they entered the field before the anthems and very powerful war dances. Some very hard, early exchanges from both sides set the tone for the first quarter of the game.

Tonga had the early momentum and after a penalty 6 minutes into the game, Taukeiaho potted an easy penalty goal to give Tonga a 2-0 lead.

Rapana went close to scoring but couldn't hold the pass. Tonga let their discipline slip and New Zealand took full advantage, mounting plenty of pressure up the middle before sending the ball wide to Watene-Zelezniak who scored a good try in the corner.

A great kick return by Tuivasa-Sheck laid the platform for the next Kiwi's try as they went the length of the field in the set before going wide to put Rapana over in the corner. Shaun Johnson's conversion attempt looked ugly but managed to find it's way over the bar, giving the Kiwi's an 8 point lead.

Watene-Zelezniak and Tonga's Daniel Tupou both traded disallowed tries before a great pass off the ground by Brad Takairangi found Tuivasa-Sheck back up on the inside, who went over for a try on halftime. Johnson converted and the Kiwi's lead 16-2 at the break.

Tonga needed to score first in the second half and Fusitua did just that when he produced a great leap and catch to score out wide. Just as the Kiwi's looked to be building momentum, Tonga struck with three amazing tries in the space of six minutes. Hurrell threw a great flick pass inside to Fusitua who ran back infield and scored. Lolohea converted.

Three minutes later New Zealand were working the ball out of their own half a little too casually when Lolohea snatched an intercept and ran 30 metres to score under the posts. Taukeiaho converted.

Another three minutes passed before a barnstorming bust by Murdoch-Masila out wide, before passing to Hopoate backing up, scored under the posts. Taukeiaho converted to give Tonga an 8 point lead.

New Zealand struck back when Tuivasa-Sheck cleaned up a stray pass and with a typically Tuivasa-Sheck run through broken play, scored a great solo try. Johnson converted to reduce the Kiwi deficit to just 2 points.

With just 2 minutes left in the game and Tonga again on the attack, Hurrell produced another great draw and pass to put Fusitua over for his third and the match winning try.

3. David Fusitua

A stunning second half hat trick of tries got Tonga back in the game and the win.

2. Jason Taumalolo

He was targetted all game and yet still could not be contained. Lead his pack like a giant.

1. Tuimoala Lolohea

A consistent and clever game by the young half, whose plucky intercept try put the game in the balance when it looked to be slipping away from Tonga.