Semi final two of the World Cup sees a face off between Tonga and England in Auckland on Saturday afternoon. Tonga have impressed over the past few weeks and England will want to put in that elusive 80-minute performance they desperately seek.
Tonga fought off a tough Lebanon side last week, beating the Cedars 24-22 in arguably one of the best matches so far. It was one of those games that could’ve gone either way, with end-to-end action, but ultimately Tonga’s good start led them to victory. Although both team have attacking abilities, the defensive efforts from both sides was impressive.
England managed a 36-6 victory over Papua New Guinea but it was far from a perfect performance. Both sides contributed to the high error count. Jermaine McGillvary kept up his impressive form, scoring another two to add to his World Cup tally.
Even though most bookies have a England-Australia final planned, Tonga are not to be taken lightly. They are a side filled with talent from both the NRL and Super League and have proved, in beating New Zealand, they want to break into the top three.
The key aspect for England is keeping their focus and not letting the big Tongan forwards run the show. They need to make sure every player is giving 100% or they could fall at the final hurdle once again.
England coach Wayne Bennett has named an unchanged side from the 17 that beat PNG last weekend; however they are waiting on a late fitness test for Kevin Brown. After last week’s concussion, it is vital they make sure he is at full fitness. If not, it is expected that Gareth Widdop will move back to halfback and Jonny Lomax will regain the fullback position.
Tonga welcome back forwards Sio Siau Taukeiaho and Peni Terepo, who missed last week’s win over Lebanon. Tonga have a depth of talent all over the park, both backs and forwards, so England should proceed with caution.
ENGLAND: 1 Gareth WIDDOP, 2 Jermaine MCGILLVARY, 3 Kallum WATKINS, 4 John BATEMAN, 5 Ryan HALL, 6 Kevin BROWN, 7 Luke GALE, 8 Chris HILL, 9 Josh HODGSON, 10 James GRAHAM, 11 Samuel BURGESS, 12 Elliott WHITEHEAD, 13 Sean O’LOUGHLIN (c), 14 Alex WALMSLEY, 15 Thomas BURGESS, 16 Ben CURRIE, 17 James ROBY, 18 Jonny LOMAX, 19 Chris HEIGHINGTON, 20 Mark PERCIVAL, 21 Scott TAYLOR.
TONGA: 1 William HOPOATE, 2 Daniel TUPOU, 3 Michael JENNINGS, 4 Konrad HURRELL, 5 David FUSITUA, 6 Tuimoala LOLOHEA, 7 Mafoa’aeata HINGANO, 8 Andrew FIFITA, 9 Siliva HAVILI, 10 Sio Siua TAUKEIAHO, 11 Manu MA’U, 12 Sika MANU (c), 13 Jason TAUMALOLO, 14 Sione KATOA, 15 Peni TEREPO, 16 Tevita Pangai JUNIOR, 17 Ben MURDOCH-MASILA, 18 Sam MOA, 19 Manu VATUVEI, 20 Joe OFAHENGAUE, 21 Samisoni LANGI.