New Zealand shocked by Tonga in World Cup
By Press Association
Last Updated: 11/11/17 9:28am
Tonga pulled off a stunning 28-22 win over New Zealand to earn a World Cup quarter-final against minnows Lebanon.
The Pacific Islanders came from 16-2 down at half-time to clinch a sensational victory with a hat-trick of tries from winger David Fusitua that thrilled a capacity crowd of 25,000 at Waikato Stadium.
It means the Kiwis, as Group B runners-up, will face a last-eight showdown with Fiji while Tonga loom as England's potential semi-final opponents.
The eagerly-anticipated grudge match lived up to all expectations, the tone for which was set in the pre-match Haka when New Zealand forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona touched heads with former Australia international Andrew Fifita.
Tonga enjoyed most of the early pressure but only had a penalty from Sio Siua Taukeiaho to show for their efforts and the Kiwis soon began to demonstrate their superior creativity.
Left winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak produced a clinical finish midway through the first half to nudge New Zealand ahead and right winger Jordan Rapana went over in the other corner eight minutes later.
Hooker Danny Levi also went close for the Kiwis before Tonga winger Daniel Tupou had a try disallowed for a forward pass.
It looked a crucial and controversial decision when, four minutes later, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck accepted an offload from centre Brad Takairangi to grab a try that, with Johnson's goal, opened up a 14-point lead.
Undeterred, Tonga dominated the third quarter and, after centre Konrad Hurrell went close, Fusitua leapt high to touch down Toa Lolohea's high ball for his first try.
Lolohea hit the woodwork with the conversion but he was on target to convert Fusitua's second try after 58 minutes to bring his side to within four points.
The pivotal moment came on the hour when Lolohea went over for an interception try and three minutes later Warrington-bound forward Ben Murdoch-Masila broke clear to get full-back Will Hopoate over.
When Tuivasa-Sheck went over for his second try after 71 minutes it set up a nervous finish but Fusitua settled it with his third try three minutes from the end.