Samoa beats Tonga 20-12 in Rugby League World Cup match
Watch footage of the game here:
We may have lost but man our war dance was nice.
SYDNEY, Australia - Centre George Carmont's try - the only scoring of the second half - helped Samoa to a 20-12 win over Tonga on Friday in a Pacific Islands grudge match at the Rugby League World Cup.
Tonga, which beat Ireland 22-20 in its opening match Monday, had the bulk of early possession but trailed 10-0 at Penrith in western suburban Sydney. It was Samoa's first match of the tournament.
Captain Nigel Vagana scored a 90-metre intercept try and Bulldogs National Rugby League star Matt Utai added a second as Samoa led 14-12 halftime after winger Francis Meli had given Samoa a 4-0 lead after three minutes.
Tonga hooker Tevita Leo-Latu scored his team's first try and centre Michael Jennings the other after taking a flick pass from Tony Williams, who provided Tonga's other points with two goals.
The match featured several big hits and crunching tackles. Samoan prop Kylie Leulau'i was placed on report by referee Shayne Hayne for a high tackle on Tonga fullback Fetuli Talanoa in the first half.
The prelude to the match between the traditional rivals was fiery. The singers of the national anthems walked off arm in arm with their national flags in a show of unity, but there was nothing friendly about the threatening war dances each team performed minutes later.
Samoa did their Maori haka-style dance first, proceeding from their 35-metre line up to the 50. They stood at the halfway line while Tonga did a similar dance, but despite much screaming, mock slitting of throats and swordplay, order prevailed as neither team crossed the mid-field line.
At the end of the match, fans invaded the pitch, forcing a television interview with Michael Jennings of Tonga to be cut short when spectators began jostling with the interviewer and Jennings.
Vagana said the win was one of his career highlights.
"The rivalry is instilled into you when you are born," Vagana said. "It's something that we always have and it's always within us. Trying to stay focused and not let the emotion take over can be a stretch."
"It's to the credit of us and the Tongans that we played a very disciplined game, no fights, no brawls or anything like that."
Samoa coach John Ackland praised Tonga for its defensive effort in the second half.
"We always thought that they would tire but, to their credit, they didn't. They kept defending their line with tremendous courage," Ackland said.
In other weekend matches, Fiji will play its first match of the tournament on Saturday against France, which beat Scotland 36-18 in its opener. Also on Saturday, New Zealand meets Papua New Guinea.
On Sunday, unbeaten Australia and England meet in Sydney. Australia beat New Zealand and England downed Papua New Guinea last weekend.
The final is scheduled for Nov. 22 in Brisbane.