Tonga have scored five second-half tries to upset New Zealand 28-22 in a thrilling contest in front of a packed house at Waikato Stadium.
New Zealand 22
The most eagerly anticipated clash of the Rugby League World Cup pool rounds will see New Zealand take on Tonga. Join The Roar for a live blog of the match on Saturday afternoon at Waikato Stadium in New Zealand from 3pm (AEDT).
This match had spice added to it when Jason Taumalolo made the late decision to switch his allegiance from the Kiwis to Tonga for this tournament. He’s bound to receive a frosty reception from both New Zealand fans and his former Test teammates.
Both teams are undefeated at the tournament – each won matches against Samoa and Scotland – but New Zealand have racked up more points and conceded less, so they’ll start as favourites.
With two wins, each nation has already qualified for the quarter-finals, but top spot in Pool B is up for grabs, which would mean an easier opponent in next week’s quarters.
The winner will most likely play Lebanon if other results this weekend pan out as expected, while the loser will face Fiji.
New Zealand have made three changes to the team that thumped Scotland 74-6 last week, with wingers Jordan Rapana and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak replacing Peta Hiku and Jason Nightingale, while Thomas Leuluai comes in for Elijah Taylor at hooker.
The Tongans have been forced to make one change to the team that beat Samoa 32-18 last week, with centre Konrad Hurrell named in place of the injured Solomone Kata.
Tonga by 4 in an upset.
Join The Roar for a live blog of the match between New Zealand and Tonga on Saturday afternoon at Waikato Stadium in New Zealand from 3pm (AEDT).