Australia defeat Tonga at sold out Mt Smart Stadium

20th October 2018, 12:16

rlif

Australia defeat Tonga at sold out Mt Smart Stadium

Picture and words from NRL.com

There was huge passion for Tonga from the 26,214 fans at a sold-out Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night and it was hard to argue there was much separating the two teams on the paddock.

However, Australia hit back after their defeat to the Kiwis with a very controlled and dominant performance, especially in the first half.

The result did little to silence a parochial crowd that had travelled from across the globe just to be part of one of the most anticipated Test matches in recent memory.

The opening try for the Kangaroos came through an error from Tonga, allowing Daly Cherry-Evans to pick up the spoils and sprint away untouched to the tryline for an early 6-0 lead.

James Tedesco then stepped inside an injured Ata Hingano to put Tom Trbojevic over in the corner and send the Australians out to a 12-point advantage in as many minutes.

But the Tongans hit straight back through Tevita Pangai jnr, who took advantage of some defensive indecisiveness from Cherry-Evans and Jordan McLean to stroll through a hole from a Hingano short ball.

Hingano soon left the field nursing an arm injury, with Australia compounding Tonga's woes when Valentine Holmes stepped inside three defenders to grab his side's third try of the night.

Cherry-Evans showed great vision to help capitalise an overlap down the blind side on the ensuing set, with the ball going through six pairs of hands before Tom Trbojevic notched up his second try.

Just when the match threatened to become a one-sided contest, the Tongans provided their fans with some hope when Daniel Tupou crossed in the corner following a brilliant flick pass from Pangai jnr.

But on the stroke of half-time a brain fade from Pangai jnr, who in the act of trying to stop a Holmes try made contact with the Australian winger's head with his boot, gifted the Kangaroos a possible eight-point try.

Holmes missed his first sideline conversion but nailed the one from in front to send Australia into the break with a 30-10 lead.

Solomone Kata scored the first try of the second half for Tonga, but any hope of a come-from-behind victory faded when James Tedesco scored out wide for a 34-16 lead with 16 minutes remaining.