Poor start cost Tonga, says coach

James Gordon

Tonga coach Charlie Tonga rued the poor start his side made as they opened their World Cup campaign with defeat to Scotland.

They found themselves 20-4 down, before a rousing second half comeback gave them the lead on the hour mark, only for Matty Russell’s late try to condemn them to defeat.

The last time the two sides met in a World Cup match was in the 2008 tournament, when Tonga came out on top 48-0.

Tonga said: “It was gut wrenching, a big game and we probably let ourselves down a bit especially in the first half.

“We can’t make any excuses for our errors, the way we started was really poor. The momentum certainly went our way in the second half. 

“I thought the boys really picked themselves up and competed. 

“Unfortunately a couple of calls had to be looked at but that’s the way it goes – we can’t change it, we’re going to have to move forward and re-build for the next two games.”

Group C is quickly turning in to an intriguing section of the World Cup, with the in-form Italy making up the three.

Tonga take on Cook Islands in one of the cross-over group games next Tuesday at Leigh, before a crunch match against the Italians at Halifax on November 10.

They will need to win both of those games to have any chance of making it through to the last eight.