rugby league

Tonga rewarded with public holiday

The Pacific Islanders, forced to play as Tonga Invitational XIII due to political infighting, beat the Lions 14-6 in Hamilton last month before pulling off a stunning 16-12 defeat of the world champions at Eden Park on Saturday.

New Zealand, Great Britain and England were the only sides to have beaten Australia in the previous 41 years before their stunning loss to Kristian Woolf's side.

The Tongan team have been invited for an official reception in recognition of their victories and they will be even more popular after a national holiday was declared.

Public holiday declared in Tonga for historical win over Australia

The team claimed a slice of history when they stunned world No.1 Australia 16-12 in a pulsating test at Eden Park on Saturday night.

The players are expected to arrive in Tonga next week.

According to Kaniva News, it is understood that Cabinet approved the decision Tuesday.

Tonga’s Prime Minister  Pōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa, has officially congratulated the team.

NZ defeat Great Britain 12-8

No tries were scored in the first half with the sides locked 2-2 at half time, but the Kiwis took charge after the break as Jamayne Isaako and Corey Harawira-Naera crossed over.

Daryl Clark replied late on, but Great Britain would fall short and suffer a second loss at the start of the 2019 tour, having lost to a Tonga Invitational XIII last weekend.

Belief soars in Tonga camp ahead of Roos showdown

The Cowboys enforcer said the Pacific kingdom has found another level at training this week following the 14-6 win over the Lions at Waikato Stadium, and feel ready for whatever Australia will throw at them.

"If anything the boys have improved and everyone's got a bit of confidence under their belt after last week's game," Taumalolo said.

"The Kangaroos played a typical Australian style of footy against the Kiwis, grinding out teams and putting them to the sword.

Jennings stars as giant-killing Tonga claim Lions scalp

In front of a crowd of 9420, at the same venue where two years earlier they beat the Kiwis to make history as the first tier-two nation to beat a top-tier side, Tonga dominated the first half and then defended their line resolutely in the second.

Michael Jennings was at his scintillating best, scoring the opening try of the match and setting up the second after the half-time siren.

Guided around the park by 18-year-old debutant Tesi Niu, who was a late call-up in place of Ata Hingano (shoulder), the Pacific kingdom sent their fans into raptures.

Tonga dismiss distractions, focus on Great Britain

The team is playing under the banner of "Invitational XIII" after a court ruled the Tonga National Rugby League was the only authority able to operate the official national side, Mate Ma'a Tonga, following a long-running dispute between coach Kristian Woolf and the TNRL.

Captain Jason Taumalolo says the off-field politics have not been a focus for the players.

"It hasn't really affected us as much as I thought. The boys have been great coming into camp and since they walked into camp on day one it's all been about footy," Taumalolo said.

Emotions to run high for Tonga's Test 'homecoming'

Tonga became the first second-tier nation to beat a tier-one side when they beat New Zealand 28-22 that day, and ahead of facing Great Britain on Saturday night Taukeiaho said the venue and city of Hamilton remained special to the squad.

"It is going to bring out some emotions for sure," Taukeiaho said.

"A lot of us love being here in Hamilton because of that memory, we have a lot of fans here as well and the atmosphere is awesome.

"It's good to be back in the colours again seeing familiar faces, as well as some new faces coming into the squad."

Raiders crush Warriors 46-12 in NRL

Disappointment is the only word Warriors coach Stephen Kearney could conjure post-match after his side's remote finals aspirations dreams were all-but buried at Mount Smart stadium last night.

They'll remain 12th by the end of the weekend but can't fancy their hopes on current form, combined with a tough run home and ongoing injury problems for Kodi Nikorima and Karl Lawton.

Coach Stephen Kearney delivered his lacklustre players a rocket at the break and was still steaming at fulltime.

Kearney can't explain Warriors meltdown

The 46-12 loss to the Raiders on Friday left Kearney feeling angrier than he could remember.

His team trailing 30-0 at halftime, the coach was captured by television cameras delivering a dressing down to his players in the shed which involved furiously kicking a stray towel. It would have hit Peta Hiku in the head if the centre hadn't taken evasive action.

Kearney was angry that after a run of six gritty showings, in which no game was decided by more than four points, his side failed to front in their first game in Auckland for a month.

Tonga in need of sponsorship to continue playing in Oceania League Cup

Last weekend Mate Ma'a Tonga fans packed out Mt Smart Stadium once again but the team are now left in need of sponsorship to continue playing at the Oceania League Cup.

Melino Maka, says Tonga's NRL currently only have enough funding to pay for half of the two-week preparation period where the players will be training together in New Zealand before in the lead up to their next game in October.

Mr Maka has been working to coordinate permanent sponsorship for the team which he says is desperately needed.