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Maka was handed a choice: either (a) play his top side on opening night then again 4 days later (3 days prep-time, really) and hope their fitness held or (b) watch the second-stringers get flogged by the AB then try to turn it around in time for the must-win Canada game. I doubt many coaches would have gone (b) - who wants to cop an 80-point hiding at any time let alone 4 days before an even more important match? So he had to go (a) & came up short.
Stunning performance v France, would have loved to see Tonga in the QF & I hope he & his staff keep their jobs, the overall improvement vs '07 was huge.
Oh and memo to IRB: great that you're going to give all teams a decent break between games in 2015, now can you do something about the player-availabilty issue that's holding the tier 2 nations back? These guys need access to their best players for PNC etc every year, not just RWC every 4.
Posted 21:25 31st October 2011
@brynylon....you're completely right there mate. I even heard that two players from French club LOU got sacked because they chose to play in the RWC.
But yeah, Tonga's scrum made one of the biggest improvement ever. From being completely dominated by the England Saxons in June (without mentionning how we struggled in the PNC of past years) to competing fairly against the AB and French scrum...now that's improvement, thanks to Mr. Cron, son of the AB scrum coach.
@startledwombat...yeah their fitness was always a problem (just remembering Fiji's comeback win in 2010 after Tonga led 28-0), but when I saw them come back from 19 points down with 15min to go against the French Barbarians and win in november 2010, I was really surprised. I hope the fitness and scrum problems are now issues of the past.
Posted 11:15 31st October 2011
This team's fitness surprised me. I had got used to seeing the Tongan forwards jogging around the park after 25 minutes, puffing and blowing and counting the minutes till half time. Used to be that it was a waste of money, buying tickets to games that Tonga was in. And then you'd hear all these excuses from their supporters afterwards.
When Tonga plays 80 minutes they are formidable!
Posted 09:09 31st October 2011
The Tongan scrum as great-did you see France at the end try to dominate them without success!Tonga's problem as always is getting players released by clubs between WorldCups.One of the many failures of the useless IRB!
Posted 07:44 31st October 2011
Agreed. Tonga was behind Fiji and Samoa in the past but recently Tonga has improved a lot. I think their biggest problem is the scrum. I still remember last year that all the PNC matches Tonga played in, they gave away a penalty try because of the scrum. I really dont know how to describe their team, you know its there (talent and skill) but it just doesnt show. I look forward to watching them again next year...or whenever they are gonna play again.
But based on the RWC, I think Tonga and Samoa are miles ahead of Fiji.
Posted 04:31 31st October 2011
Tonga is indeed behind Samoa but not Fiji... We just sacked our coach Domoni which was a very smart thing to do. I was there when Tonga played a Samoan team that was made up of reserves since there main team moved to Australia where they beat the Australians. So yes...behind Samoa but not Fiji
Posted 04:11 31st October 2011
Isotolo Maka hurt their campaign because of his Canada faux-pas!How can he be retained?Canada was a must-win game-everyone knew that except him!Tonga could have handled that 4 day turnaround.The team was the FITTEST Tongan team ever-credit to Matt Blair.Pity Maka never knew that!As for Finau-poor!
Posted 04:11 31st October 2011
"Fallen behind Samoa and Fiji in the pecking order"?
I find that hard to believe... This year Tonga beat Fiji twice, once during the PNC and once in a RWC warm up game, and also beat Samoa as well.
What might have been may be one thought, but overall can't complain with RWC 2011's results... the WC only really sprung to life when 7,000 Ikale Tahi fans packed out Auckland airport when their team arrived.
Didn't embarrass themselves against a rampant AB side... many thought they had the better of the AB's in the 2nd half... lost to Canada by 5 points, but then beat Japan and then then caused the biggest upset of the cup, beat France in Wellington. The loss to Canada was very costly in terms of missing out on the quarters... but overall, certainly a pass mark in my view.
Things are looking good for the future too... huge playing base in their late teens, early 20's coming through the systems in NZ and Aus who can't all play for them
Posted 02:08 31st October 2011
They beat weakened Samoan and Fijian sides at the PNC, hell Japan was even the winning team! Samoa's top team with their European players would deal to Tonga 3 times out of 4.
Posted 23:15 30th October 2011
Well I'd have said a win against France would technically be the greatest success of any tongan team ever...and they're better than samoa and certainly fiji now, give em a few more years and I think we'll see (providing they get a decent pool) them in the quarter or even semi finals...
Posted 21:01 30th October 2011
Tonga beat both Samoa and Fiji in the PNC, they're not behind them. I just hope the IRB won't inflict any heavy sanction on Tonga after the political inteference before the RWC. I hope there won't be any action at all lol.
Posted 20:12 30th October 2011