An exciting game of football between Tonga and Scotland tonight at Derwent Park has seen Scotland run out with an amazing win, 26-24.
The game started scrappily, with Scotland trying to force a pass on the second tackle of the match, and knocking the ball. However they got an even up a few minutes later when FuiFui MoiMoi couldn't handle a Havili pass, and put it to ground. Both teams tidied up their efforts after that, and fans were treated to an entertaining, if unexpected first half.
Fisiiahi crossed for Tonga's first and only first half try, in the eighth minute. It followed some poor defense from Scotland, and a simple failure to mark up on their man. Langi missed the conversion.
After that though, it was all Scotland in the first half. Their tactics were clear - get up as a line in defense, chase every kick strongly, and get numbers into the tackles. And they did just that. Tries to Russell, Fisher and Carter, as well as some good kicking from Brough, saw Scotland head to the break leading 20 points to 4.
The half time speech from Tonga's coach Willie Tonga must have been a rousing one, as his team definitely came out to play in the second half. Tonga started the half with two half line-breaks, a penalty, and then a try in the 41st minute to Sika Manu, after he chased down a grubber kick from centrefield.
Tonga sliced more points off the Scotland lead through tries to Seluini, Willie Manu and another to Sika Manu. With 15 minutes remaning, Tonga took the lead 24-20, before a try to Matthew Russell in the 72nd minute sealed the game for Scotland.
Tonga had one last attempt in the 79th minute. Linnett was sent to the Sin Bin for a professional foul, and a few plays later Foster managed to get over the line. But the video referee ruled a no try, and Scotland held on for the two point win.
Things could have been different for Tonga - they were turned down by the video referee on multiple occassions, but they really didn't make the most of their opportunities.
Fisiiahi didn't have his best game, knocking a kick on, and throwing a wild cut out pass to the touch judge. But in the end it seemed Tonga just didn't play to their strengths. Their main strike weapons, Hurrell, Taufua and Tupou didn't see enough ball, and the passionate defense from the Scotland side was enough to win them the game.
In the end it was the goal kicking that made the difference. For Scotland, Brough was cool and collected, as he bagged four conversions from four attempts, and a penalty goal. Samisoni Langi, on the other hand, kicked only two from five.
Tonga 24 Scotland 26
Venue: Derwent Park
Halftime Score: Scotland 20-4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Danny Brough
2 points - Sika Manu
1 point - Kane Linnett