Sun, Nov 05, 2017 - Page 10 News List

New Zealand, Tonga advance in league

VIOLENT CLASH:About 200 Samoa and Tonga fans carrying sticks clashed before the rugby league teams called for calm from supporters ahead of their game


New Zealand’s Peta Hiku, top, reaches to score a try yesterday ahead of Scotland’s Alex Walker during their Rugby League World Cup match in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Photo: AP

New Zealand and Tonga yesterday joined Australia in qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Rugby League World Cup with one round to spare in the pool stage.

Cohosts New Zealand thrashed Scotland 74-6 win in Christchurch, New Zealand, then Tonga beat their Pacific Island rivals Samoa 32-18 in Hamilton, New Zealand, in a match that passed peacefully after the build-up was marred by violence.

New Zealand and Tonga are now both assured of their spots in the playoffs regardless of who wins their Group B clash on Saturday, while Samoa and Scotland are to face each other on the same day with the winner advancing and the loser being eliminated from the 14-nation tournament.

At least 12 people were arrested as about 200 Samoan and Tonga fans — armed with sticks, poles and a machete — clashed in Auckland, New Zealand, in the lead-up to their match.

However, after impassioned appeals for calm from police, community leaders and members of both teams, the game went ahead without any further trouble.

Tonga, bolstered by seven premiership winners from Australia’s National Rugby League, opened up a 14-6 lead over Samoa at halftime after Michael Jennings scored two tries.

Peni Terepo, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Manu Ma’u added tries for Tonga in the second half while Jazz Tevaga, Ben Roberts and Timoteo Lafa replied for Samoa.

New Zealand’s 14 tries to one victory over Scotland saw it top its previous highest score in Test matches — 72-0 over a Pacific Island combination in 2008 — while Scotland suffered its heaviest ever international loss.

Te Maire Martin and Peta Hiku scored three tries each for the Kiwis, while veteran winger Jason Nightingale crossed twice.

Kenny Bromwich, Dean Whare, Elijah Taylor, Russell Packer, Joseph Tipene and Shaun Johnson also scored tries for the home side, while Johnson added nine conversions for a personally tally of 22 points.

Scotland scored a late consolation try through Oscar Thomas, nine minutes from full time.

“Conceding tries is something we don’t want to happen, but just one try,” New Zealand captain Adam Blair said. “I’m sure the coach will be happy with that, but the players will look back and try to fix it.”

Group A leaders Australia on Friday sealed their quarter-final place by beating France after previously defeating England.

In groups C and D today, Papua New Guinea meets Ireland, Italy faces the US and Fiji plays Wales.

The top three teams from Groups A and B are to qualify for the quarter-finals, while just the winners of Group C — Papua New Guinea, Ireland and Wales — and Group D — Fiji, the US and Italy — are to join them in the last eight.

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