Tonga’s defeat of Lebanon last night was the narrowest win in the Rugby League World Cup
Tonga defeated Lebanon 24-22.
It was Tonga’s fourth in a row after defeating Scotland, Samoa and New Zealand.
Mate Ma’a Tonga’s margin of victory has narrowed since its first match in the competition
when it demolished Scotland 50-4.
In the next two games Tonga defeated Samoa 32-18 and New Zealand 28-22.
Last night’s win makes Tonga equal favourite with the top tier nations for a place in the final in Brisbane.
Both sides scored four tries, but Mate Ma’a led on penalty points.
Tonga fielded a virtually unchanged line-up to the side that overthrew the Kiwis 28-22.
The one exception was the return of centre Michael Jennings.
The Cedars went up against Tonga with several injured players.
It was the first time the two sides had met and the first time either side has progressed past the group stages of a World Cup.
Tuimoala Lolohea scored the first try of the game in the third minute, followed by a
successful conversion by Ata Hingano.
Four minutes later Adam Doueihi scored for Lebanon, with a conversion by Mitchell Moses.
David Fusitua scored for Tonga in the 19 th minute, with Ata Hingano converting again.
Four minutes later Will Hopoate scored another try for Mate Mea, with Hingano converting.
Cedars Centre James Elias scored in the 29 th minute with a conversion by Mitchell Moses.
David Fusitua scored in the 32 nd minute, with Hingano putting the ball over the bars.
Abbas Miski scored for Lebanon in the 39 th minute with a conversion my Mitchell Moses.
Miski scored the final try of the match in the 68 th minute, with a conversion by Moses.
The Mate Mea will play in the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals at Mt Smart stadium in
Auckland next Saturday.
However, Auckland airport has warned that Tongan supporters will not be allowed to gather
at the airport to welcome back the team.
An airport spokeswoman said there was not enough room in the domestic terminal for a
large number of fans to greet the team without causing disruption to other passengers and
Tongan Advisory Council chair Malino Maka said banning Tongan fans was a double
standard, with other team's supporters welcome at the airport.
He said the airport did not consult with the Tongan community about ways it could manage
fans before announcing the ban.
“They should at least share with us their concerns so we can work out a way so that we can
achieve their objective and also achieve our objective.”
In other cup games, Samoa went down 46-0 to Australia in Sydney yesterday.
But the Pacific struck back when Fiji downed New Zealand 4-2 in Wellington last night.
England face off against Papua New Guinea in Melbourne this afternoon at 4pm local time.