Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Tonga's monumental rise on the international stage has continued, upsetting Australia 16-12 at Eden Park.
Having already let the fight against the now suspended Tongan rugby league board, Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo led from the front on the field to inspire the four-point win.
It is a fitting reward for two players who defied tradition two years ago when they decided to turn down the opportunities to represent Australia and New Zealand.
It was all part of a bigger plan to prove Tonga and other Pacific Island countries should be taken seriously. And after Saturday's performance they certainly will be.
It is the first time in history that Australia has lost to a second-tier nation and their first defeat since 1978 against France.
The sea of red turned out in full force once more in a clear show of solidarity with the Tongan players - their passion for their team and culture rewarded with a rare victory.
Aggression up front contributed to Tonga's success with Siosiua Taukeiaho, Addin Fonua-Blake and Taumalolo all running in excess of 160 metres.
Tuimoala Lolohea also showed great patience in attack, forcing two dropouts while fill-in playmaker Kotoni Staggs had some nice touches.
Will Hopoate crashed over for the first try of the night when he took the line on and used brute strength to dive over under the posts.
The class of Australia was proving the difference though with the Kangaroos nabbing two quick tries through Jack Wighton and Paul Vaughan to hit the front.
But a 47% completion rate in the second forty was Australia's undoing with the Mate Ma'a storming home to claim a famous victory.
A beautifully-executed sweeping play in the 45th minute saw Michael Jennings slice over before Tevita Pangai-Junior charged through the line for the match-winning try.
There were 25 minutes on the clock though and Australia had plenty of chances to steal the win late but the occasion meant more for Tonga and it showed as they resiliently held out their opponents.
Australia 12 - Tonga 16
Venue: Eden Park
Halftime Score: Australia 12 Tonga 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Siosiua Taukeiaho
2 points - Will Hopoate
1 points - Tuimoala Lolohea
Tries: Jack Wighton, Paul Vaughan
Conversions: Latrell Mitchell (2/2)
Tries: Will Hopoate, Michael Jennings, Tevita Pangai Junior
Conversions: Kotoni Staggs (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Kotoni Staggs (0/1)