Rugby

Rugby League World Cup: Samoa 20-18 Tonga – thriller sets up England semi-final

Tonga (10) 18
Attempts: Tupou, Taukeiaho, S Katoa Goals: Yo Katoa (3)
Samoa (12) 20
Attempts: Su’a, Luai, To’o Goals: Criton (4)

Samoa set up a World Cup semi-final meeting with England after overcoming a heart-pounding encounter against Tonga in Warrington.

Trying from Jaydn Su’a and Jarome Luai gave Samoa a small lead at half-time, with Daniel Tupou and Siosiua Taukeiaho crossing to Kristian Woolf’s side.

Brian To’o’s converted attempt secured victory, despite Sione Katoa’s late effort for Tonga, which ensured a grandstand finish.

Samoa will now face England at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Defending champions Australia will take on New Zealand in the first semi-final on Friday in Leeds.

Slick Samoa Eliminates Bruise Contest

This highly anticipated fourth quarter-final between the two Pacific Island nations did not disappoint.

The traditional pre-kick-off war dances – the Siva Tau for Samoa and the Tongan Sipi Tau – provided a fitting prelude to a contest filled with athleticism, power and superb ball-handling skills.

Both countries were able to field teams packed with superstars from Australia’s National Rugby League, but Samoa settled in quicker. Su’a scored in five minutes and Luai got past three players for his team’s second try after Tupou answered for Tonga with a looping pass from St Helens winger Will Hopoate.

At that point, the skilled Samoans were threatening to let loose, and only some superb late tackles prevented them from establishing a commanding lead.

After weathering a sizeable Samoan storm, Tonga capitalized on repeated sets as Siosiua Taukeiaho punished Soni Luke’s skillful grubber.

And the momentum seemed to have shifted in Tonga’s favor as Isaiya Katoa leveled the match 12-12 with 30 minutes remaining.

However, Joseph Suaali’i’s exceptional carry set the stage for To’o’s decisive try.

Samoa’s gripping win means they can look forward to their first World Cup semi-final and a chance to atone for their embarrassing 60-6 loss to England at the opening of the tournament.

The rematch in London on Saturday (14:30 GMT) will be broadcast live on BBC One and BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra.

That comes after Australia meet 2008 winners New Zealand in the first semi-final of the men’s tournament at Elland Road on Friday (19:45 GMT).

Those two nations have met in four previous finals, and their match will be on BBC Two and BBC Radio 5 Live.

‘It was a sensational match’

Samoa head coach Matt Parish speaking to BBC Sport: “There wasn’t much going on between either team. It was just tenacious defense at the end. Tonga threw everything at us.

“I told the players that they had a chance to make history at half-time and reach the semi-finals for the first time. But I didn’t say much. They knew what to do. Our full-back Joey [Joseph Suaali’i] at 19, to play like this… You talk about a forceful match, it was a sensational match.

“I haven’t thought about the semi-final yet. I will enjoy this and think about it tomorrow. To have the support of Tonga, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand here in England is absolutely amazing. I hope we can go to the final.” final.”

Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf: “I thought they were a little bit better than us. They beat us early on and they were probably a little bit better than us defensively. We had a chance to win. We didn’t, but it was disappointing.

“We had enough chances at the end to win the game. We kicked the ball when we had tackles in hand. That’s something we have to learn.”

“Our fans are exceptional. They show their support for us with the passion and energy they bring. We couldn’t do the work for them. But everyone saw the effort we put in. We just need to work on a few things if we want to win these kinds of games.” .

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