Rugby League World Cup: Tonga v England Preview

Tonga and England will lock horns on Saturday the 25th of November in the second of the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals.

There is an absolute classic in-store this coming Saturday with the Northern Hemisphere's last chance at Rugby League World Cup glory, England, taking on a highly impressive Tongan outfit. The English have been exceedingly clinical this tournament, while the Tongans off the cuff brand of League has won plenty of plaudits.

This game is one you can label under the old 'Clash of Styles' file. And it will be interesting to see which particular brand prove most effective come Saturday.

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Tonga v England | Saturday 25 November | Mt. Smart Stadium | 5:00 am (GMT) 

To Win (80 Mins)
Tonga 31/20 | Draw 20/1 | England 11/20
Tonga (+3.5) 9/10 | England (-3.5) 9/10 *Please note that this is a forecast handicap


Mate Ma'a Tonga (Die for Tonga) have certainly lived up to their name by putting in a number of uncompromising displays. The Islanders put in another bruising performance during their semi-final as they battered their way to a narrow 24-22 victory over a spirited Lebanon outfit. The victory ensured that they remained undefeated in the tournament having previously beaten New Zealand, Samoa, and Scotland during the Pool phase.

The Tongans were made to work hard for last week's win and they may be somewhat jaded come the final twenty minutes of Saturday's clash. This will be a real worry for Tongan fans as their side, while impressive, is yet to put in a full 80-minute performance. If the Tongans lapse in concentration, even for a few seconds, then they are likely to be punished by this clinical England outfit.


Wayne Bennet's men were in great touch during the quarter-finals as they hammered Papua New Guinea 36-6. That win was their third of their World Cup campaign, with the men from the Northern Hemisphere beating both France and Lebanon during the Pool phase. Their only loss in the competition thus far came at the hands of the Australians in the opening round.

Like Tonga, there are a few worries for the English coaching staff heading into Saturday's clash. Bennet's men made 20 handling errors during their semi-final, which is rather surprising considering how good their completion rate - going through six phases counts as a completion - was prior to last Sunday's match. It may have just been a case of stage fright for England but they can ill-afford to cough up that much ball against a dangerous Tongan side.

Verdict: England 11/200
While the Tongans have been great value, they are yet to face a side as well-drilled as the English are. I can see the Islanders getting frustrated with England's astute defence, which is likely to lead to moments of ill-discipline. With the previous statement in mind, I will be having a crack on the English to take full advantage of the Tongans lapses in concentration and go on to win the game.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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