England withstand stunning Tonga fightback to reach final

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 25, 2017

England have dodged a bullet in the shape of a brilliant late comeback from Tonga to scrape into the Rugby League World Cup final with a 20-18 victory in Saturday's semi-final in Auckland.

Prolific winger Jermaine McGillvary scored for the 10th game in a row to put his side on their way to a 20-0 lead but England were hanging on grimly by the end after the Pacific Islanders, roared on by a fervent following of more than 25,000 fans, scored three converted tries in the last seven minutes.

But Tonga - who progressed beyond the group stage for the first time - turned the match on its head, scoring three unanswered try in the space of five minutes to make it a two-point game.

Four-pointers to Tevita Pangai Junior, Siliva Havili and Tuimoala Lolohea sent the 30,003-strong crowd at Mount Smart Stadium into mayhem, and very almost saw Tonga continue their incredible unbeaten run. The towering Tongan regathered and scored the try but the referee called it a knock-on.

That sparked Tonga into action in an absorbing and end-to-end contest but England moved 12-0 ahead five minutes later.

Twice Lolohea produced senseless kicks for himself, while a number of his teammates coughed up errors inside the attacking 20, leaving England with a comfortable lead at the break.

Spurred on by another brilliant performance from fullback Gareth Widdop, England scored three tries and up until the final 10 minutes had defended their line brilliantly.

England captain Widdop was named man of the match.

However, no one predicted what was to come as Tonga nearly pulled off the impossible after Siliva Havili and Tui Lolohea went over in quick succession with England rattled.

"And you didn't have to miss it, you just revert it to the video referee".

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