Mate Ma'a Tonga out with dignity


A wave of exultation swept across the Tongan global community, after the Mate Ma’a Tonga stunned Italy with 16 – 0 on Monday at Hallifax.

The victory is a breakthrough after Tongan rugby fans were shocked by their ‘Ikale Tahi team's loss to Romania 18 – 19 on Sunday.

Although the Mate Ma’a Tonga’s victory was a win-lose outcome, as it did not have a chance for the quarter final but it has won over its supporters' trust and faith.

It was not a match for the Tongan fans only. The Scots were far more supportive of the ‘Ikale Tahi, because a win over Italy means Scotland's Bravehearts would effortlessly go to the quarter final.

That's what exactly happened on Monday. The result meant Scotland topped Group C with five points after beating Tonga (26-24) and the USA (22-8), and drawing 30-all with Italy.

Tonga finished with four points from two wins, while Italy performed better than its last place in the group suggested.

Scotland will now take on New Zealand in the first quarter-final on Friday night, Tongan captain and Penrith-bound prop Brent Kite saying he would support the Scots after his team missed out.

"I hope they do well," Kite said. "I hope they go out there and give it their all.

"I was hoping Tonga could get into a quarter-final and show people we are coming along and show them there are reasons to play more international games and give little countries like Tonga and Scotland a go.

"I will be cheering for Scotland and any of those emerging nations that come through to the quarters. I hope they do themselves proud and the rest of the countries who would love to be there."

Italian captain Anthony Minichiello was also bitterly disappointed the tournament was over for his team after it showed a lot of early promise. After beating England 15-14 in a warm-up match, the Azzuri beat Wales 32-16 before drawing with Scotland and then losing to Tonga.

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