The Tonga Invitational X111 recorded one of the biggest results in the history as they defeated the current number one ranked team, the current world cup holders and arguably the best rugby team in the world, Australia by 16 – 12. This came after they trailed the Kangaroos by 12 – 6 at half time. To keep the world champions scoreless in the second half was a remarkable feat.
Despite the loss, Australia still lifted the inaugural International Rugby League Oceania Cup on points difference after Tonga, New Zealand and Australia all completed the tournament on 2 points with one win and one defeat each.
On the same programme at Eden Park in Auckland, the Great Britain Rugby League Lions went down to their second defeat on tour as they lost 12 – 8 to the Kiwis and in the International Rugby League Oceania Trophy, Fiji defeated Samoa. They now move into their final game next week against Papua New Guinea with both teams hoping for a convincing win that would take them up into the Oceania Cup for 2020. Samoa, despite their loss on Saturday could still win the trophy, depending upon the result of next week’s game. All to play for.
International Rugby League Southern Hemisphere General Manager, Jeremy Edwards commented on the magnificent event in Auckland saying:
“This was an outstanding event made even more special by the fans who turned out in great numbers and created a spine-tingling atmosphere. There were three great match-ups but obviously the effort by the Tonga Invitational X111 was remarkable and bodes well for the 2020 Oceania Cup.
“This whole international period is great for the Pacific nations in particular as they meet and now beat the best in the world. Who could now confidently predict the winner of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup?”
In the Northern Hemisphere, Greece put in a magnificent display against Scotland before finally losing out in the final quarter. That result secures Scotland’s place at RLWC2021 where they will be joined by Italy who secured their place by consigning Spain to their second consecutive defeat. A result that also guarantees qualification for Ireland.
Greece will now travel to Belgrade on Saturday to face Serbia. They will arrive as favourites, but Serbia could still qualify if they win by a large enough margin.