RLWC2017 Game 16 – New Zealand v Tonga – Match Review + More

Rugby League World Cup action continues with New Zealand v Tonga. We have the preview and the review after the match of the biggest pool stage match.

rlwc new zealand v tonga

One of the potential matches of the tournament truly lived up to the hype as the New Zealand v Tonga was a thrilling battle which saw the Tongans caused the upset so many had predicted.

The dark horses of the competition now have to be taken seriously as they now top Pool B and set up a potential semi final meeting with England and then possibly onto Australia.

We’ve covered the game with the Who, What, Where, When and How of the big game which hopefully lives up to the hype.

The 2017 Rugby League World Cup is a big deal for us, being huge rugby league fans and love a minnow or two, and we’ll be covering all of the games throughout. So visit our 2017 RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP MATCH CENTRE

Now onto the New Zealand v Tonga game.



RESULT – Who Won?

Tries: D. Fusitua (48), D. Fusitua (59), T. Lolohea (62), W. Hopoate (65), D. Fusitua (78)
Goals:  S. Taukeiaho 2 Conv 1 Pen T. Lolohea 1 Conv

Tries: D. Watene-Zelezniak (20), J. Rapana (28), R. Tuivasa-Sheck (39), R. Tuivasa-Sheck (72)
Goals: S, Johnson 3 Conv


How Did They Win?


The Tongans overpowered the Kiwis in the second half with a blitz of 4 unanswered tries in 17 minutes

Before the break New Zealand lookd to have the game under control, leading 16-2 and getting that all important try just before the half time siren when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was in the right place at the right time when Brad Takairangi popped up the perfect offload a metre short of the line after breaking away from the Tongan defence.

Earlier Tonga opened the scoring with a penalty goal after a frenetic opening which saw plenty of power running, big hits and some end to end excitement. Eventually the Kiwis got on top on the scoreboard as Dallin Watene-Zelezniak finished off a nice movement to the left. Jordan Rapana then put on some acrobatics to seal the next Kiwi try in the opposite corner to make it 10-2. The teams traded disallowed tries for forward passes after that, which ruined a neat bit athleticism from Tonga’s Daniel Tupou.

Tonga need to score first after half time, and they certainly did that with four unaswered tries after half time to stun the Kiwis and take the lead. Most telling was a six minute three try burst which saw Tonga carry all of the momentum, Lolohea’s perfectly timed intercept was just a sign of how it had turned all good for Tonga.

New Zealand were stunned by the steam roller that Tonga had become, but a second try for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck got New Zealand back within two points, but Tonga sealed the game with two minutes to go when David Fusitua completed his hat trick.


What did we learn?

Tonga are no longer dark horses of the tournament but a genuine winning chance, including the potential dethroning of Australia. 

They have more than enough firepower in the forwards to match it with the Aussies, and their backline isn’t behind by much either. On paper Tonga shouldn’t win, but Australia haven’t been overly wonderful thus far. In saying that, Tonga have to get past Lebanon and likely England to get their chance in the final first.

What was the Moment of the Match?

The last try to Fusitua which sealed his triple treat and the win for Tonga was a moment of pure joy for Tonga and their fans. It also presented the moment Tonga became genuine contenders.

Any other bits and pieces?

  • The pre-game rituals were as good as ever, the Kiwis taking particular interest in Andrew Fifita. It has been a highlight of the tournament thus far.
  • The crowd atmosphere was incredible again,
  • What now for Tonga? As exciting as their story has been, what happens after the Ruby League World Cup? With little opportunity to play outside this major tournament, there used to be at least the Pacific Test Series in May each year, but looking at the NRL draw for 2018 there doesn’t appear to be room for even that. So how can teams like Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and PNG keep the momentum going from this Rugby League World Cup when they wo’t have an opportunity to play together much. For us a Pacific Test Four Nations to accompany stand alone Stand Alone State of Origin is a must. It keep the Pacific test nations in the game, and gives us a nice side distraction from the tedium that is State of Origin hype.



We’ve decided that a tournament as big as the 2017 Rugby League World Cup needs a Player of the tournament, and who better than International relations specialists Kevin Tamati and Greg Dowling to name our award.

We award points on a 5-4-3-2-1 scale every match, and the results for this game is below. For the running total from all of the games visit our 2017 RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP MATCH CENTRE

5 POINTS – JASON TAUMALOLO – Staked his reputation on switching to Tonga, and the team’s win and his perfromance makes that fully justified.

4 POINTS – ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK – New Zealand’s best, and two tries the reward. The second got them within winning distance late.

3 POINTS – Sio Siua Taukeiaho – has been one of Tonga’s best without the hype of the defectors. Goal kicking props a real rarity these days.

2 POINTS – Nelson Asofa-Solomona – off the bench and provided plenty in the first half for the Kiwis. Man mountain.

1 POINT – ANDREW FIFITA – Also did plenty of work and didn’t hide from the hype.



Where and When: LIVE Saturday 11th Nov – Hamilton
When is it on TV? Channel 7Mate @ 4:00pm/3:00pm

What’s the Story?

This was the big game marked on the fixture list before the 2017 Rugby League World Cup started, and nothing has changed with both sides having been in great form in their first two games. Something has to give in the battle for top spot in Pool B, and it will be hopefully be entertaining watching the outcome.

Despite seeing Jason Taumalolo and others defect to Tonga, and talk of disunity in the team before the tournament, you could argue that New Zealand have been the slightly more impressive side out of the two Pool B front runners so far. Their for and against is better by a full 38 points, and their 74-6 demolition of Scotland last weekend showed their real quality.

Tonga has the supercharged atmosphere of their match with Samoa last weekend, and one wonders if all the emotion of that big game has taken its toll. 

There was talk of Tonga being the dark horses of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, and now they have the chance to prove it. A loss won’t be the end of the world, finishing second place means a quarter final berth, likely to be against Fiji which would be another huge game given the form of the Fijians.


Who Will Win and Why?

As tempting as it is to jump on the Tonga dark horse bandwagon, there’s still a lot of experience and quality in the New Zealand side. The forward packs are star filled and reasonably equally matched, and backlines not far apart either, so the real point of difference could be the halves. 

There’s nothing wrong with the Tongan halves, but the Kiwis have Shaun Johnson, who has been in great form so far in the World Cup. Kodi Nikorima comes back into the five eighth position, and if he can shift Te Maire Martin, who was excellent last weekend, then he there plenty for the Kiwis to look forward to.

New Zealand by 8


Who to watch for?

Jason Taumalolo is the man to watch, and will have the eyes on most of the rugby league fans tuning in. He made his choice to play for Tonga over New Zealand, and now is the first head to head between the two nations. His has been in great form so far in the tournament, but can he lead Tonga to victory?

One player we’ve enjoyed watching for the Kiwis has been Martin Taupau, and he combines in a super front row Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Plenty of brute force to match Jason Taumalolo and the other headline defector Andrew Fifita. Mouth watering to say the least.


Who’s in the Teams?


1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3 Dean Whare 4 Brad Takairangi 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Kodi Nikorima 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Martin Taupau 9 Thomas Leuluai 10 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 11 Simon Mannering 12 Joseph Tapine 13 Adam Blair 14 Nelson Asofa-Solomona 15 Russell Packer 16 Isaac Liu 17 Danny Levi 18 Kenny Bromwich 19 Te Maire Martin 20 Elijah Taylor 21 Peta Hiku


1 William Hopoate 2 Daniel Tupou 3 Michael Jennings 4 Konrad Hurrell 5 David Fusitua 6 Tuimoala Lolohea 7 Mafoa’aeata Hingano 8 Andrew Fifita 9 Sione Katoa 10 Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11 Manu Ma’u 12 Sika Manu (c) 13 Jason Taumalolo 14 Siliva Havili 15 Sam Moa 16 Peni Terepo 17 Ben Murdoch-Masila 18 Mahe Fonua 19 Manu Vatuvei 20 Ukuma Ta’ai 21 Tevita Pangai Junior



Coming soon.



We’ve decided that a tournament as big as the 2017 Rugby League World Cup needs a Player of the tournament, and who better than International relations specialists Kevin Tamati and Greg Dowling to name our award.

We award points on a 5-4-3-2-1 scale every match, and the results for this game is below. For the running total from all of the games visit our 2017 RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP MATCH CENTRE

Points coming after the match.



About Max Layne 282 Articles
Max has no time for long bios, he has only time for sport and then more sport. Each week he tries to sum up what sport has tickled the collective fancy of The Gurgler.

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