Too tight for Tonga
Martin Offiah says we saw the best and worst of Tonga during their narrow win over Ireland.
Last Updated: 27/10/08 3:02pm
Martin Offiah says we saw the best and worst of Tonga during their narrow Rugby League World Cup win over Ireland.
The Irish Wolfhounds went into the match as massive underdogs but more than held their own and will look back at several opportunities to clinch a famous win as they went down 22-20 in a thrilling Group C encounter in Parramatta.
Offiah felt it was a marvellous game and while he was excited by the performance of Feleti Mateo and some of the skills of Tonga's players, he thought the indiscipline they showed in the second half could have cost them the game
"It was a see-saw, ding-dong battle, full of drama and it had me on the edge of my seat," he told Sky Sports.
"Ireland did have chances to win that game at the end as the penalty count and the two sin-binnings took its toll on Tonga and they were out on their feet.
"I know Tevita Leo-Latu got the official man of the match, but for me Feleti Mateo was fantastic, showing a range of skills and kicking ability. He was a maestro out there today.
"We saw the best and worst of Tonga in the second half, some of the great hits exacted on the Irish players and some of the intricate handling and kicking skills of their half backs.
"But on the other hand we saw indiscipline. They gave a penalty away within 55 seconds of the second half starting. I wonder how much hair Jim Dymock must have left on his head.
"When you have the words of your coach ringing in your ears, how can you still go out and give a penalty away?
"But they still came through, maybe a little bit fortunate, but they were deserved winners."
While Tonga came away with the points, Offiah feels Samoa are now in pole position to win Group C because the game will have taken so much out of the players.
Tonga and Samoa clash in a key match on Friday and Offiah feels the lack of recovery time could cost Tonga qualification.
"It's going to have taken a lot out of Tonga today, " he added.
"Samoa will be watching this rubbing their hands with glee. It was a mammoth effort in the end, they were out on their feet and Jim Dymock's got to come up with some words of inspiration, maybe tinker with the side ready for Friday.
"It's a very short-turnaround in this World Cup, but they'll be running on emotion. They were running on fumes at the end of that game so we'll have to wait and see on Friday.
"I'm really looking forward to that game. My money's always been on Samoa and it's still there."