Rugby League World Cup: Scotland upset Tonga 26-24 at Derwent Park
Last Updated: 31/10/13 12:07pm
Scotland held off a ferocious second-half comeback from Tonga to claim a thrilling 26-24 success at Derwent Park in Workington.
Steve McCormack's side were sensational in the opening half with tries from Matthew Russell, Ben Fisher and Brett Carter putting them 20-4 to the good.
However, Tonga were much improved after the interval with Willie Manu, Nafe Selunini, Sika Manu (2) all crossing the whitewash.
Russell's second of the game gave levelled the contest late on with Danny Brough's touchline kick giving Scotland a two-point advantage, but the drama had not finished.
Video referee Ashley Klein was called upon to look at a possible last-gasp try for Tonga, but it was not to be giving Scotland a dream start to the tournament.
The packed-out crowd were in for a treat from the off as Tonga set the tone with a rousing Sipi Tau haka.
Their enthusiasm drew a 37-second knock-on out of Scotland's Adam Walker and after a couple of settling-in plays they took an eighth-minute lead as Sika Manu's delayed ball put full-back Glen Fifi'iahi through.
Scotland's response was a fine one, though, and one they could have been forgiven for not making considering the early battering they were getting from brutish prop FuiFui MoiMoi.
A short kick-off from Brough got them the ball back and after Konrad Hurrell coughed up possession in the next set, Russell dragged his way out of three would-be tacklers to score.
Brough upgraded the try and then tagged a penalty, with a tasty punch-up between the two sides in the meantime keeping the fans enthralled.
Tonga returned with interest and Sosaia Feki was dragged in touch as he bore down on the corner, while Brett Carter - a local favourite as a Workington player - was guilty of taking his eye off the ball in an identical position.
He was bailed out by substitute hooker Ben Fisher, though, who scored Scotland's second try with 32 minutes gone.
The retiring nine kicked ahead and his energy on the chase was rewarded as Fisi'iahi failed to gather the ball. Brough turned it into a six-point gift.
There was only one side in it, with Tonga apparently already out of steam, and as half-time approached, a third score arrived.
Fluffed his lines
Fisi'iahi again fluffed his lines and from the subsequent set, Danny Addy's fine pass put Carter in for the most popular of 'home' scores. Scotland's fortunes were summed up as Brough landed the touchline goal, with the ball bouncing off the bar and dropping over.
Scotland took that score to the dressing rooms but Manu chipped away at the deficit immediately after the restart as he snaffled up a kick which reared up above Brough, giving Samsoni Langi an easy conversion.
Tonga's roll continued apace and Nafe Seluini went over from close range after a string of Scottish errors, while another try was wiped out when Daniel Tupou was punished for a double movement.
Scotland were in tatters at the back and all Tonga were having to do was kick in goal to cause havoc. That tactic paid off with 55 minutes gone as Manu grounded a Daniel Foster kick with his fingertip but another failed conversion left Scotland two points ahead.
That almost changed as Danny Addy spat out possession to give Ukuma Ta'ai a free run but his knock-on cost Tonga another score, although that only delayed the inevitable.
With 13 minutes left, a desperate, last-tackle hack from Foster was there for Ben Hellewell to catch but it hit him on the head, skipped off and eventually came to Willie Manu to run clear.
But Scotland were not done and somehow found a way to win it. Russell did as he had done in the first half, with Brough giving Scotland a two-point lead which they preserved.
2013 Rugby League World Cup
This years' Rugby League World Cup has been hailed as the greatest of all time by the organisers. Australia claimed their 10th title by beating New Zealand in the final in front of a record attendance.
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood is confident the sport will capitalise on the success of hosting the World Cup.
We take a look back at the highs and occasional low from probably the best World Cup to date.
- Hetherington wants more cups
- Wallace commits to Scotland
- Widdop left gutted by defeat
- Tomkins devastated by defeat
- Burgess defends brother George
- Johnson expresses relief
- Kangaroos leap into final
- Sheens tribute to Civoniceva
- Australia v Fiji: Teams
- Burgess out to deny Williams
- Aussies wary of physical Fiji
- Foran highlights main threats
- Two video refs for World Cup
- Civoniceva gets Wembley buzz
- Fiji too strong for Samoa
- England disappoint McNamara
- England stroll into semis
- Sheens retains Slater hope
- Australia put USA to the sword
- Samoa v Fiji: Teams
- Williams injury played down
- Kiwis stroll into semis
- Sheens: Slater has learned
- Brough set for toughest test
- Scots ready for biggest task
- Kiwis wary of Henderson
- Farah dropped for US clash