Tonga’s attitude key for Lebanon match


CHRISTCHURCH: It was dubbed one of the greatest moments in Tonga’s sporting history, but last week’s stunning comeback win over the Kiwis will count for little if they can’t back it up against Lebanon in an elimination showdown in Christchurch.
While it will be impossible to replicate the passion that engulfed that contest from the respective war dances to the final whistle, the highly-fancied Tongans can’t let their guard down against a Lebanon side that plays with just as much emotion.
Brad Fittler’s men have been a joy to watch so far with their fans providing as much entertainment off the field as the players have on it.
They’ve held their own in back-to-back losses to England and Australia but must overcome a horror injury toll if they want to upset Tonga.
Tonga welcome back try-scoring machine Michael Jennings as well as experienced big man Sam Moa while Tevita Pangai Junior has done enough to maintain his spot on the bench.
‌Why Tonga can win: It was their backs who stole the show against New Zealand but there’s no denying that the attacking onslaught wouldn’t have been possible without their stars in the engine room. The big three up front of Sio Siua Taukeiaho (558 metres), Jason Taumalolo (540) and Andrew Fifita (454) have been unstoppable this tournament and have laid an unrivalled platform for their halves and outside backs to work from. There will be no respite for the Cedars with Moa, Pangai Junior and Murdoch-Masila set to be unleashed midway through the first half.
Why Lebanon can win: Did Tonga play their grand final last week? That’s what the Cedars will be counting on. There’s no doubt Mate Ma’a will experience some sort of a comedown after the highs of last week’s victory, and if there is any sign of complacency then Lebanon must attack the cracks.
The history: This will be their first meeting.
Match officials: Referee: Gerard Sutton. Touch judges: Robert Hicks and Dave Munro. Video referee: Ashley Klein.
Televised: Seven Mate – Live Coverage from 3pm, Saturday. predicts: The Cedars have been brave throughout the World Cup but that will only get them so far against a Tongan side that is starting to believe they can go all the way. Tonga by 30. – NRL