Tonga’s opening forty minutes in their 50-4 win over Scotland at Barlow Park in Cairns will leave the Tier-One nations with another foe to fear after they lived up to their hype and delivered a brilliant display to conclude the opening round.
The 9,216 fans were treated to a powerful pre-game war cry from Tonga, which followed an emotional rendition of their national anthem.
The entertainment ensued from the get-go as Scotland almost regained their own kick-off, sending players squaring off against each other just seconds into the game.
Tonga’s scintillating performance began when they barged their way downfield during their opening set of six, setting up Mate Ma’a speedster Michael Jennings to open the scoring with a decisive run.
In the 17th minute, Jason Taumalolo showed why he was the most talked about player before the tournament began, forcing his way past several Scottish defenders to score Tonga’s second try and move their lead out to 12-0.
The destructive forward was at it again during the next set, making a damaging run which allowed Michael Jennings to score his second try just a few passes later.
Tongan captain Sika Manu made it four tries in the 23rd minute as Tonga took a devastating 24-0 lead following Sio Siua Taukeiaho’s conversion.
Daniel Tupou pushed past the Scottish defence a few minutes after to score a dubious try in the corner with his arm appearing to have touched the sideline.
With more points on the scoreboard than minutes played at 28-0 after 26 minutes, Tonga appeared to be in cruise control.
Peni Terepo scored with primitive ease in the 38th minute before Jennings rounded out a convincing first half for Tonga with a hat-trick try, extending the lead to 38-0.
As the sun set on the blistering Barlow Park, fireworks erupted when Sika Manu was penalised for a late shot.
Scotland finally got on the scoreboard when Danny Addy burrowed his way over from dummy-half in the 62nd minute.
Tupou secured another try five minutes before full-time before a breakaway run resulted in a ninth Tongan try to halfback Mafoa’aeata Hingano to rack up an even 50 points.
Scotland: 1 Lewis Tierney, 2 Matthew Russell, 3 Ben Hellewell, 4 Lachlan Stein, 5 Will Oakes, 6 Danny Brough, 7 Danny Addy, 8 Luke Douglas, 9 Kane Bentley, 10 Ben Kavanagh, 11 Frankie Mariano, 12 Dale Ferguson, 13 James Bell; Interchanges: 14 Callum Phillips, 15 Andrew Bentley, 16 Sam Brooks, 17 Johnny Walker
Tonga: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Daniel Tupou, 3 Michael Jennings, 20 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Manu Vatuvei, 6 Tuimoala Lolohea, 7 Ata Hingano, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Sika Manu, 13 Jason Taumalolo; Interchanges: 14 Sione Katoa, 15 Sam Moa, 16 Peni Terepo, 17 Ben Murdoch-Masila
Tries: Jennings 3, Taumalolo, Manu, Tupou 2, Terepo, Hingano; Goals: Taukeiaho 6, Hingano
A full report and photos of this game and all the Rugby League World Cup matches will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express.