Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Tonga defeat Samoa, eye up shot at defeating England

AFP , MONTPELLIER, FRANCE

Tiny Tonga have realized two dreams and there's one more still to come if they can defy the odds and knock aside holders England for a quarter-final spot at the Rugby World Cup.

The Tongan Sea Eagles shocked their fancied Pacific Island rivals Samoa 19-15 to remain unbeaten in the tournament after knocking over US 25-15 here last week.

Unbeaten Tonga have eight points and lie second in Pool A one point behind South Africa and four points ahead of England.

Tonga now have a great opportunity of reaching their first quarter-final at the World Cup if they can beat the faltering holders England in their last group match in Paris on Sept. 28 after they next play South Africa (next Saturday in Lens).

Inspirational skipper Nili Latu typifies the fighting spirit in the Tongan ranks as he looks ahead to bringing off a mighty achievement over the next fortnight.

"There's a simple answer: where's there's life, there's hope," Latu said on Sunday. "The team is still alive and well and we have managed to fulfil two of our dreams today so our next big dream is to make the quarter-final. We have to take it step by step and I'm just so proud of the boys. We don't have much, but we have each other and that gets us through when the going gets tough we count on each other."

The Tongans received a rapturous ovation from the French crowd after their triumph and they spent several minutes on the field soaking in all the adulation.

"Especially coming back with 13 men, it was difficult to win the game," number eight Finau Maka said. "It was an awesome, awesome game from the boys. Not many teams win with 13 men. It was an awesome win and we are dreaming of qualification [for the quarter-finals]. We're looking at South Africa and see what happens, then we'll think of England."

The Tongans had to play out the final minutes two players down after flanker Hale T Pole became the first player to be red-carded in the tournament in the 72nd minute and his replacement Toma Toke followed him off when he was yellow carded with four minutes left.

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