Tonga Finalists?

Saturday could be the game that sees Tonga put their names amongst the list of potential finalists. With the greatest of respect to Scotland, Tonga overcame their first real test this weekend against  Samoa, they were consistent and genuinely looked a hard to beat side. Tonga made me really sit up and pay attention to them as a side that could go further than the semi's, that most people have tipped them to achieve.  If the Mate Ma'a put in a big showing this weekend against a very good looking New Zealand side, then for me they could build on that performance and I think they could beat the likes of England or New Zealand to a final spot.

Tonga's real let down was their handling in the first half, they came up with a total of 7 errors through the game, most of which were while Tonga were in good field position. Tonga need to remove this element from their game if they are going to assert themselves amongst the Rugby League world elite.

Tonga have all the makings of a world class team this year, every team that they field has real superstars in it. This is also testament to the great depth in their squad too. Everyone has talked so much about Taumalolo and Fifita, but some of Tonga's less highly regarded players have shown their class, Taukeiaho, Ma'u and Murdoch-Masila have been great so far.

The Tongans have been very enthusiastic and great to watch in both their opening fixtures. New Zealand are going to be a whole new test for the Mate Ma'a, and will truly prove if my thoughts are confirmed, if they can complete sets and out enthuse the Kiwi's for most of the 80 then everything will come together and I'm sure Tonga can come away with a win.

Obviously enthusiasm will only get you so far in a game of Rugby League, you also have to execute well and be ruthlessly efficient, these unfortunately are looking like the missing pieces of the puzzle right now. Too many squandered chances against the likes of; Australia, New Zealand and England will see you play yourself out of a game, resulting in an exit from the tournament.

It's exciting as a fan of the game to see a nation that could emerge as a challenger, it's a positive sign of growth and expansion for Rugby League as a whole. Before we know it we could have a tournament with 10 potential winners, instead of the usual warm up game to an Australia vs New Zealand/England finals, that has become so tedious and repetitive.


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