RLWC2017: How the Pacific are faring

The Rugby League World Cup officially began over the weekend with Australia’s win over England, New Zealand beating Samoa, Papua New Guinea taking the win from Wales, Fiji’s finessing of the US and Tonga’s thrashing of Scotland. Toa Samoa fans are tense after the team’s performance against the Kiwis, heading into their match against a strong Mate Ma’a Tonga (MMT) squad this Saturday in Hamilton on the 4th of November. Laumata Lauano reports

 

 

Tongan fanfare is something to behold, as fans spurred by MMT’s 50-4 win over Scotland flooded the streets of Otahuhu on Sunday following the win, before filling up the Auckland International Airport with Tongan hymns on Monday night to await the team’s arrival ahead of their game against the Toa Samoa this Saturday in Hamilton.

 

It’ll be a tense pool match, due to a long traditional rivalry between the two Pacific island nations, especially now that the Toa Samoa have lost their opening match to the Kiwis (38-8), and MMT made mincemeat of their Braveheart Scottish opponents the following day.

 

Our other Pacific island nations have fared well so far, with Fiji (in Group D with Italy and the US) easily winning their first pool match against the US 58-12 and PNG (in Group C with Wales and Ireland) taking care of Wales 50-6.

 

The Kangaroos, who also have a few Pacific names within their ranks bar Andrew Fifita (Sharks), who backed out two days after the squad was named to play for Tonga, face France next. PNG take on the Irish and Fiji meet Wales in an inter-group match.

 

The Kiwis with their largely Polynesian squad- bar Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys), Tui Lolohea (Wests Tigers), Solomone Kata (Warriors), Konrad Hurrell (Titans), Manu Vatuvei (Salford), Manu Ma'u (Eels), and David Fusitu'a (Warriors) who chose to represent Tonga over the Kiwis- take on injury-ravaged Scotland.

 

In the latest issue of SPASIFIK publisher Innes Logan ponders whether the golden era of Kiwi Rugby League has passed. Read his thoughts on the possible outcome in issue 70 of SPASIFIK out now.

 

Perhaps this sentiment is right, and with the way the Tongan team is looking perhaps world-cup favourites Australia should be more worried about the dark horse on the horizon ready to take the cup for the Pacific for the first time in the World Cup’s history- with their victory over Scotland all but guaranteeing they at least make the quarter-finals for the first time at their fifth World Cup.

 

Remember, the top three teams from groups A and B and the winners of groups C and D will qualify for the quarter-finals.

 

  • Group A: Australia, England, France, Lebanon

 

  • Group B: New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, Tonga

 

  • Group C: Papua New Guinea, Wales, Ireland

 

  • Group D: Fiji, United States, Italy

 

While the Toa Samoa and MMT match this weekend will be tense- the game to watch will definitely be the weekend of the 11th when Tonga take on the Kiwis.

 

There’s no denying the Tongan fans are ready for both matches.

 

Check out this footage from the team’s arrival on Monday night:

 

31/10/17