England survived a late Tongan rally to secure their passage into the World Cup final with a 20-18 victory.
Wayne Bennett’s side were 20-0 in front approaching the closing ten minutes, but Tonga rallied and crossed through Tevita Pangai Junior, Siliva Havili and Tui Lolohea to almost overturn the deficit.
But England held on thanks to earlier tries through Jermaine McGillvary, Gareth Widdop and John Bateman and will now face Australia in the final next Saturday.
It was a superb performance from England until the final 10 minutes, with their defence yet again coming up strong.
McGillvary opened the scoring from a scrum in the opening ten minute before Widdop extended the lead six minutes later.
England continued to threaten thereafter but it wasn’t until Bateman’s try in the 67th minute from Widdop’s pass that England wrapped the game up.
But staggeringly, Tonga crossed three times in eight minutes to set up an incredibly nervy two minutes. But England survived as Andrew Fifita dropped the ball, with the assistance of Elliot Whitehead, with the line at his mercy on the last play of the game.
Tonga: Hopoate, Tupou, Jennings, Hurrell, Fusitu’a, Lolohea, Hingano, Fifita, Havili, Taukeiaho, Ma’u, Manu, Taumalolo. Subs: Katoa, Terepo, Pangai Jnr, Murdoch-Masila.
Tries: Junior, Havili, Lolohea Goals: Taukeiaho (3)
England: Widdop, McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall, Brown, Gale, Hill, Hodgson, Graham, S. Burgess, Whitehead, O’Loughlin. Subs: Walmsley, T. Burgess, Currie, Roby.
Tries: McGillvary, Widdop, Bateman
Goals: Widdop (4)