Mate Ma’a Tonga hit form in thrashing of Kukis

Photo: MI NEWS

Tonga has issued a warning to its rivals as the Rugby League World Cup knockout stages loom with a massive victory over the Cook Islands.

Mate Ma’a Tonga ran in 16 tries to two in a resounding performance to win 92-10.

Will Pinesini scored four tries, and Tesi Niu scored a hat-trick. Isaiya Katoa kicked 14 conversions.

After unimpressive wins over Wales and Papua New Guinea, Tonga coach Kristian Woolf insisted the team are peaking at the right time.

“It was more important for us to come up with a really good performance, we’ve won two games and haven’t played our best. We’ve had plenty of things that we wanted to work on,” he said.

“Tonight we gave a bit of a glimpse of what we are capable of and the quality that we have got. I say a bit of a glimpse because we have still got more in us, we are going to be better and we are going to improve off the back of that.

“What that performance gives us is a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum going into what we know is going to be a really tough quarter-final [against Samoa].”

Captain Jason Taumalolo marked his first appearance of the tournament after suspension with a player-of-the-match display that included two tries.

The Kukis edged out Wales in their opener before putting up a strong fight in the 32-16 defeat to Papua New Guinea on Tuesday but the stuffing was knocked out of them as Tonga’s onslaught began just 49 seconds in.

Coach Tony Iro said: “I didn’t see that performance coming. We’ve competed well our last two matches and it was a short turnaround but I certainly didn’t expect that.

“We just gave them too much time and too much space. You let a side like that do what they want and they’re going to put a score on you.”

Cook Islands' Tinirau Arona celebrates after scoring their second try against Tonga

Photo: MI NEWS

Samoa thrash France

Mate Ma’a Tonga now look forward to the quarter-finals where they face Samoa who on Sunday night (UK time) beat France 62-4.

Taylan May touched down four times while Anthony Milford, Brian To’o and Tim Lafai all scored two tries apiece.

“Pretty happy to win any Test match by that scoreline. I thought our forwards were enormous, particularly that first 20 minutes, they certainly laid the platform, and we have got some backs that can capitalise on that and they certainly did,” said- Samoa coach Matt Parish.

In other weekend results, Fiji beat Scotland 30-14; New Zealand defeated Ireland 48-10; and Australia beat Italy 66-6.

England had a big win over Greece, and Lebanon a win over Jamaica.

Taniela Sadrugu  of Fiji takes on  Kyle Schneider of Scotland during the Rugby League World Cup Pool B match between Fiji and Scotland at Kingston Park, Newcastle

Photo: MI NEWS

Quarter-final line-up

November 4: Australia-Lebanon

November 5: New Zealand-Fiji

November 5: England-PNG or Wales

November 6: Tonga-Samoa