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The last round of Group D kicked off at Middlesbrough everyone having a mathematical chance of making the World Cup quarter-finals.

Tonga went into today’s game undefeated and looking to top the group on six points and meet France or Samoa in the quarters.. The Cook Islands, with one win behind them needed to win - and rely on the result of Wales’s match against Papua New Guinea tomorrow night - to qualify.

Tonga welcomed captain Jason Taumalolo into the side for his debut, having missed the opening two matches.

Tonga had first use of the ball and scored easily, breaking the Kuki line courtesy of IsIaiya Katoa’s blatant dummy before passing to Daniel Tupou to score in the corner. The try wasn’t converted, but Tonga led 4-0 without being successfully tackled.

The Cooks appeared to have hit back on nine minutes when the ball was dislodged in a tackle and they raced over to cross the line - only for it to be disallowed for a Cook Islands knock-on in the tackle. 

Tonga got possession from the resulting scrum, but lost the ball themselves, allowing the Kukis to mount a more structured attack in Tonga’s red zone.

But it was Tonga who scored next, starting a set in their own half and powering upfield for Jasonn Taumalolo to power over despite the attention of three defenders. Isaiya Katoa made sure with this conversion attempt and the team in red led 10-0.

Taumalolo scored his second when he scooped up a bounce-pass 10m out and ran through a resulting gap in the Cook Islands defence for an easy try. Isaiya Katoa kicked an equally simple conversion and Tonga had a 16 point lead with the game a quarter gone.

A minute later, Tesi Niu scored again as he followed up a break down the left hand side and received the inside pass to run in and score. Isaiya Katoa kick it for a 22-0 lead.

The tries were now coming thick and fast, with Will Paenisini next to cross after from a cross field kick, to be lfollowed by Nui after yet another flooding attack down the left finished with a kick inside. Both tries were converted by Isaiya Katoa and Tonga led by 34 points with just 30 gone.

Less than two minutes later, it was the right edge’s turn to break with Penisini clear to score. But he was tackled without the ball and a penalty try was awarded. Isaiya Katoa slotted it over from in front of the posts.

Tonga had racked up 40 points with seven minutes of the half remaining.

They made that 46 when Lance Lolohea pounced on a loose ball in Cook Islands’  in-goal after an attacking  kick had been knocked back infield from the touchline and bounced forward. The conversion was a formality.

Then as the half time hooter sounded Felise Kaufusi ran onto a short pass, beat a defender with a quick in-and-out and scored under the posts. Isaiya Katoa added the two and the teams headed into the half time talks with the Cook Islands 52-0 behind.

The Tonga players, on the other hand, had made more than 900m in just 40 minutes of rugby.

It took four minutes of the second half before Isaiya Katoa added to the Tonga score, after Sioni Katoa moved the ball back infield from the right-hand touchline. Isaiya converted his own try and the score was 58-0 with 45 minutes gone.

The next try followed when Sioni Katoa received the ball in his own with, ran infield and passed across to Moses Suli in space on the opposite wing who charged forward before giving the ball to Nui who raced through for his hat-trick. Inevitably, Isaiya Katoa converted and the score stood at 64-0 with 50 minutes played.

Isaiya showed he was human by missing the conversion attempt.

The next try belonged to Pensini when he raced onto a pass clearly intended for forward Ben Murdoch-Masila. Isaiya Katoa converted.

It took 10 minutes for the next score from Tuimoala Lolohea after Brendan Piakura chased down what looked like a scoring break, only for Lolohea to move in to dummy half and dived over. Isaiya Katoa’s kicking was back on form and he kicked the conversion.

Daniel Tupou was next to score in the corner on the left edge from a long pass to move the score on to 78-0. Isaiya Kotoa’s conversion brought up the 80 on 65 minutes.

But eventually the Kuki’s hit back, just shy of 70 minutes when Steven Marstes forced his way over in the right corner and, with two defenders pushing him towards touch, managed to ground the ball for an 80-4 scoreline.

Panisini resumed normal service with his own hat-trick try on 74 minutes, giving over in the corner in the 74th minute to make the score 84-4. Isaiya Katoa converted for 86-4.

Minutes later, he turned provider, breaking down the right before passing inside to Talatau Amone for a 90-4 scoreline. Katoa kick then made it 92-4.

But just as the hooter was about to sound, the Kukis’ long kick-off was fielded and then passed across the back where it was intercepted for a simple run behind the Tongan posts before casually and selflessly passing the ball to the supporting Tinirau Arona to score the last points of the match, with a try and a conversion in his final game, for a 92-10 score.

Tonga: Niu (3T); Topou (3T), Suli, Penisini (2T, PT), S Katoa; I Katoa (T 14G), Lolohea (2T); Fonua-Blake, Luke, Fotuaikai, Kaufusi (T), Koloamatangi, Taumalolo (2T). Subs: Amone (T), Tatola, Fifita, Murdoch-Masila.

Cook Islands:  Rio; S Marsters (T), E Marsters, Daniela, Ulberg; Takairangi, Ford, Makatoa , Teroi, Moeroa, Peyroux, Piakura, Tetevano. Subs: Tevin Arona, Tinirau Arona, Moale, Napa.

Full Time: 92-10.

Half Time: 52-0.

Score Progression: 4-0, 8-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0, 20-0, 22-0, 26-0, 30-0, 32-0, 36-0, 40-0, 42-0, 46-0, 50-0, 52-0. HT. 56-0, 58-0, 62-0, 64-0, 68-0, 70-0, 74-0, 76-0, 80-0, 80-4, 84-4, 86-4, 90-4, 92-4, 92-8, 92-10 : FT.

Lead: Tonga.

Referee: Ashley Klein.

Attendance: 8,342 at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough.

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Posted by tb on Sun 30th Oct 2022 4:26 PM | Views : 8011 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES