After a day of cold and rain, Mate Ma’a Tonga went down 14-34 against New Zealand Kiwi this evening.
The Kiwis were leading 16-4 at half time.
Brandon Smith scored the first try of the evening for the Kiwi in the 11th minute.
Shaun Johnson scored three tries for New Zealand Kiwis, with Brandon Smith, Jahrome Hughes and Joseph Manu also going over the line and Esan Marsters making five successful conversions.
Solomone Kata, SioSiuaTaukeiaho and Daniel Tupou scored tries for Tonga with Taukeiahoscoring a conversion.
Commentatorsdescribed SitiliTupouniua and ManaseFainu as the outstanding players on the Tongan ide.
During his live coverage of the game, New Zealand Herald reporter Christopher Reive said: “They should just give the ball to SitiliTupouniua every play. He’s the only one having any success tonight.”
This evenings’ game was important for Mate Ma’aTongas’ long term goals.
Mate Ma’aTonga prop TevitaPangai Jr told the Herald: “We know as a goal, going into the World Cup we want to be a top three nation,”
“Our eyes are on the Kiwis, and we’re looking longer term.”
Playing more matches against top tier teams is the first step for Tonga to make progress in the standings. The Rugby League International Federation’s ranking system gives more points for a win over a strong nation than for a victory over a country with a lower rank.
As we reported yesterday, the Tongan side was missing Andrew Fifita, who has been suspended for three matches.
Fifita told the media before the game he was“absolutely gutted” not to be playing, but said “I can’t wait to see the red sea this weekend.”
AddinFonua-Blake was listed to takeFifita’s place in the front ow.
The Mate Ma’a squad announced for this evening’ game were Will Hopoate, DanielTupou, Kotoni Staggs, Solomone Kata, David Fusitu’a, John Asiata, TuimoalaLolohea, Siliva Havili, SioSiuaTaukeiaho, TevitaPangai Junior, Manu Ma’u, Jason Taumalolo,ManaseFainu, AddinFonua-Blake, PeniTerepo, SitiliTupouniuaandfSioneKatoa and TevitaTatola a reserves.
Asiata, Staggs, Fainu and Tupouniua were making their debut for Tonga.
Red and white
The run-up to the game had drawn some concern, with tickets till available only hour before the match.
This was in contrast to previous games where the enthusiasm of Tongan fans had been widespread.
However, this evening’s number were estimated at 23,624 and Radio New Zealand reported that cars adorned with Tongan flags had reappeared on the Auckland’s streets.
The national broadcaster said houses on Rockfield Road, a few blocks from the stadium, were coated in red and white.
RNZs’ Jamie Wall concluded his report on the game by describing it as “a fun evening here at Mt Smart.”
“There’s still a ton of Tongan fans hanging around waiting for their heroes. It really shows how important test rugby league is.”
The main points
- After a day of cold and rain, Mate Ma’a Tonga went down 14-24 against New Zealand Kiwis this evening.
- Solomone Kata, SioSiuaTaukeiaho and Daniel Tupou scored tries for Tonga with Taukeiahoscoring a conversion.
For more information
Tonga’s Andrew Fifita to miss Kiwis test