Tonga 24-22 Lebanon: Sea Eagles make World Cup semis
By Ben Proe
Last Updated: 18/11/17 12:17pm
England will face Tonga for a World Cup Final place should they overcome Papua New Guinea on Sunday - after Jason Taumololo's men edged out Lebanon 24-22 in a quarter-final thriller.
The favourites were ahead inside three minutes in Christchurch, courtesy of Tui Lolohea - but the Lebanon reply took just five minutes - Adam Doueihi rounding off good work from Mitchell Moses and Robbie Farah.
Sika Manu's men, though, took control with a double either side of the 20-minute mark; David Fusitu'a's sensational finish confirmed by video referee Ben Thaler, before Will Hopoate's four-pointer was converted brilliantly by Ata Hingano.
That made it 6-16 - and although the Cedars closed to within four on the half-hour, as a sensational Moses run and grubber was touched down by James Elias - the favourites had restored their 10-point cushion within a couple of minutes; Fusitua at the double, from a pinpoint Hingano kick.
But Brad Fittler's team put themselves within a score just 60 seconds before the break. Out of nothing, another terrific kick - this time from fullback Anthony Layoun - was grounded superbly by winger Abbas Miski to make it 22-16 Tonga at the interval.
Lebanon could have levelled within five minutes of the second period, but for a harsh obstruction call against what would have been Doueihi's double. Within seven, Hingano's penalty put Tonga two scores clear - and those two points proved crucial as Miski added a spectacular second with twelve to go; Moses converting from the sideline.
However, Kristian Woolf's side held on to book a date with the winner of tomorrow's last remaining quarter-final next Saturday in Auckland - with that World Cup final place at stake.