Tonga set up a final countdown
THE World Cup final is now within reach for Tonga after Jason Taumalolo and fellow d defector, hat-trick hero David Fusitu’a, inspired an epic fightback from a 16-2 deficit t to rock the Kiwis’ hopes.
Tonga scored four tries in a 17-minute second-half blitz that turned the World Cup schedule on its head. The Kiwis face a semifinal against Australia if they beat Fiji in the q quarters, while Tonga are likely to face England in the final four by beating Lebanon.
“It’s outstanding,” Tonga coach Kristian W Woolf said. “I’m really proud of these blokes and the guys that made the decision to play for Tonga. It was a big step up but we rose to the occasion and I can’t be prouder of them.
“It is right up there with (the nation’s) greatest sporting achievements.”
Trailing 16-2 at halftime, the Tongans exploded after the break with Fusitu’a crossing twice in the 48th and 59th minutes before Kiwi prop Russell Packer threw a 62nd-minute intercept for Tui Lolohea, who streaked away to give Tonga a 18-16 lead.
Fullback Will Hopoate then crashed over before Fuistu’a’s third sealed the upset.