Scotland narrowly defeat Tonga in World Cup thriller

Danny Addy

Arguably the best game of the World Cup so far, the unheralded Scottish side have defeated a strong Island nation in Tonga, winning 26-24 in an absolute nail-biter.

It was a last gasp try for Scottish fullback Matt Russell – his 2nd – that got Scotland over the line, as the resilient Scots took the lead late on and never looked back despite a host of pressure by the Tongans.

At first, it was all one-way traffic for Scotland as they were in cruise control and raced out to a 20-4 lead but that was all about to change.

The first half belonged to Scotland but as for the second half, Tonga had all the momentum and eventually took the lead – back-rower Sika Manu scored a double – before Scotland’s late try won the game.

Despite Tonga having the ascendancy for large periods in the second half, Scotland coach Steve McCormack said his side was not about to give up and showed great fighting spirit.

“We were never going to give up. That ‘do or die attitude’ and the crowd really got behind us – when it really mattered the team dug deep,” McCormack said.

“We have got a bit of improving to do in all areas.”

Tonga had their chances to potentially score late on – to get two points at the very least – but after opting to go for the tap from a penalty, they could not score.

With goal-kicking ultimately the difference in the game – Tonga scored five tries to Scotland’s four – Manu said despite the disappointment of the loss, Tonga will bounce back.

“A bit disappointing not to go away with the win,” said Manu.

“We wanted to (go for the try at the end) but it didn’t happen. We’ll have to bounce back.”

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