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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Tonga have pulled up one of Rugby league's greatest upsets with an impressive 14-6 victory over the Great Britain Lions in Hamilton in front of a passionate crowd of 9,000.
The two sides were very evenly matched through the opening half hour with neither side giving an inch in defence through this period. The Tongan side was able to gain some momentum towards the latter stages of the first half.
The opening four pointer came just after the half-hour mark when Michael Jennings chased through a deft kick from Tui Lolohea and got to the ball first to score the opening points of the match. The second try of the half for Tonga was a piece of Rugby League brilliance has the Tongans strung together 16 passes in the lead-up before Michael Jennings put boot to ball and it saw Sione Katoa chase through to get the ball first and score Tonga's second. A sensational conversion strike from Siosiua Taukeiaho put the Tongans up 12-0 at the break.
The second half was yet another tough half of footy with both sides again not giving their opponents an inch and the first chance of a try came through England after Gareth Widdop's kick ingoal was chased down but Great Britain were denied by a hand from David Fusitua.
Neither side could really add any points until Tonga were given a penalty right in front when they the British were penalised for taking out a player who wasn't in possession of the ball. The Tongans went 14-0 up and the task to pull off an upset was a big one for Great Britain. The British were able to get over the line in the final ten minutes when John Bateman fought his way over the line to score.
Despite the Lions getting on the board, they couldn't push for an upset and Tonga took the victory by 14-6. Next week, the Tongans will play Australia whilst New Zealand have their first clash against the Lions at Eden Park.
Tonga 14 - Great Britain 6
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato
Halftime Score: Tonga 12 Great Britain 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Siosiua Taukeiaho
2 points - Fanitesi Niu
1 points - Addin Fonua-Blake
Tries: Michael Jennings, Sione Katoa
Conversions: Siosiua Taukeiaho (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Siosiua Taukeiaho (1/1)
GREAT BRITAIN (6)
Tries: John Bateman
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (1/1)