Tonga win has Samoa feel­ing full of am­bi­tion

NT News - - SPORT - JACK HISLOP

SAMOA’S Sam Ta­gataese says his side has taken in­spi­ra­tion from Tonga’s his­toric vic­tory over New Zealand ahead of their knock­out clash against Aus­tralia at Mar­rara on Fri­day night.

The come-from-be­hind 28-22 up­set at the week­end was the first time a tier-two na­tion had beaten ei­ther Aus­tralia, New Zealand or Eng­land in international rugby league.

“It was great that Tonga won,” Ta­gataese said.

“Hope­fully they do well and hope­fully we can do some­thing special too (against Aus­tralia).”

The for­mer Mel­bourne Storm, Gold Coast Ti­tans and Cronulla Sharks for­ward said the wild scenes at Hamil­ton’s Waikato Sta­dium should in­spire more play­ers to rep­re­sent their coun­try of her­itage.

“It grows con­fi­dence and en­cour­ages a lot of play­ers around Aus­tralia, New Zealand and the Pa­cific boys to strive to play for their par­ent’s coun­tries of birth,” Ta­gataese said.

Toa Samoa qual­i­fied for the quar­ter-fi­nals with­out win­ning a match in Pool B.

A draw in their fi­nal game against Scot­land pro­pelled Matt Parish’s side into the knock­out stage on for and against.

“It does feel strange, but we are where we are,” Ta­gataese said.

“Luck has turned our way in draw­ing that game.

“Scot­land played well against us — we didn’t play too well and luck­ily we did get the draw and the op­por­tu­nity to have an­other crack.”

Ta­gataese, who is un­signed for 2018, said con­trol­ling the ball in hu­mid Top End con­di­tions would be the cat­a­lyst for an im­proved per­for­mance.

“We haven’t been able to hold onto the ball. It doesn’t mat­ter what team you are play­ing for or how good you are, if you are com­plet­ing at 30 per cent you can’t win,” he said.

Samoa will have to win the for­ward bat­tle to give their out­side backs the best chance of caus­ing dam­age, says Ta­gataese

“Where we can beat them is our power game and then our strengths out wide in Ricky Leutele and Joseph Leilua,” he said.

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