Tonga 16 v 0 Italy (Rugby League World Cup)
A crowd of over ten thousand people witnessed both Italy and Tonga crash out of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in the final group C game at the Shay, Halifax.
The Italians desperately needed a win to keep their tournament hopes alive, but it was not to be as Tonga scored two second half tries to win the game sixteen points to nil, which confirmed Scotland’s place in the quarter finals of the competition.
It was a fierce start from both sides, which led by an early injury to Patrick Politoni after some heavy tackles. Undeterred, the Tongan outfit quickly made inroads, Fuifui Moimoi almost breaking the deadlock before losing possession.
Digging their heels in, the Italians established a solid foothold, Cameron Ciraldo’s surging run creating a clear cut scoring opportunity, only for a timely interception to deny them.
With Tonga on the defensive, Italy looked to capitalise on a good attacking position. A sea of blue shirts surged forward and when the ball came to Ciraldo he put Joshua Mantellato over in the corner. However, video evidence showed he fell short of the line and they failed to take advantage of their growing momentum.
Mistakes at the back by the Azzuirri almost cost them dear with only 10 minutes to go in the first half. Twice Jorge Tafua had the ball in scoring positions and his side would have taken the lead had not been for some desperate defending by Italy.
As the half drew to a close Tonga repeatedly failed to break through a resolute Italian defence so when Samisoni Langi won a penalty he opted to send it over the posts to give his side with a slender 2-0 lead at the break.
Sensing that a quarter final berth was there for the taking, Italy came out for the second half in determined mood. A wonderful counter attack saw James Tedesco cross the line but for the second time in the game video referee Phil Bentham was called on and ruled that the ball hadn’t been grounded.
It was turning out to be a busy afternoon for Bentham as he was called into action again, this time to rule on a Tongan score. Willie Manu took no prisoners as he was bundled over the line and this time the try was given with Langi confidently converting for an 8-0 lead.
Released from their defensive shackles and with nothing to lose, Italy flooded forward. Despite their valiant efforts there was no way through the strong Tongan defence as the game moved into its final quarter.
Time was running out for the Italians to salvage their World Cup ambitions and these were dented even further as Tonga struck again. A sweeping move ended with Daniel Foster’s outstretched arm recording another try.
In the final minutes they made sure of victory when a scintillating break by Daniel Tupou was finished off by Pene Terepo. Following the game the manger and captain of the Italy side held a press conference, both expressed their disappointment at not only losing the game, but also being knocked out of the World Cup.
Tonga – Mataitonga, Tupou, Hurrell, Fonua, Taufua, Langi, Foster, Kite, Politoni, Moimoi, Ta’ai, Manu, Paea (Subs) Seluini, Vave, Terepo, Likiliki
Italy – Minichiello, Mantellato, Tedesco, Guerra, Centrone, Falcone, Ghietti, Laffranchi, Parata, Vaughan, Minichiello, Ciraldo, Riethmuller (Subs) Snowden, Tramonte, Santi, Nasso
Trys – (Tonga) – Manu (48), Foster (64), Terepo (79)
Conversions – (Tonga) – Langi (40,48)
Attendance – 10,266