28 Oct 2008

Tonga win a thriller against Ireland

6:44 am on 28 October 2008

Tonga overcame adverse decisions on and off the field to beat Ireland 22-20 in a thrilling rugby league World Cup match at Parramatta Stadium.

After the New South Wales Supreme Court denied Tonga access to NRL stars Fuifui Moimoi and Taniela Tuiaki yesterday they were twice reduced to 12 men as winger Damien Blanch scored a hat-trick of tries to give Ireland a chance of the competition's first upset,.

However, the appropriately-named winger Esi Tonga helped his team overcome a late 20-18 deficit with a decisive 73rd minute try.

It was a case of going from villain to hero, as Tonga was one of two members of his team sin-binned.

Ireland scored their first three tries and 14 points while Tonga were outnumbered.