England survive a Tonga onslaught

Last updated at 13:54 19 April 2007

England 32 Tonga 14 England withstood a physical battering from the Tongans to lift the Federation Shield after an ill-tempered final at Widnes.

Paul Cullen's Super League youngsters maintained their composure to prevail in a feisty, occasionally brutal affair which erupted in an ugly brawl and resulted in Tonga having two men sent off.

A game that simmered close to boiling point for long periods eventually turned into a free-for-all and the tourists finished the game with just 10 men following the dismissal of captain Solomon Haumono and Joe Falomaki.

Falomaki was also sin-binned, along with Makasini Richter and England's Brett Ferres, as busy referee Richard Silverwood brandished four yellow and two red cards in all.

The barnstorming runs of Parramatta prop Fuifui Moimoi and former Castleford second-rower Richard Fa'aoso caused all sorts of problems for the young England defence, while Feleti Mateo pulled the strings effectively at stand-off.

But Tonga paid a hefty price for their indiscipline as England kept their cool despite serious provocation.

Cullen's youngsters also produced the better football, while Wigan winger Mark Calderwood enhanced his reputation as the leading uncapped winger in Super League with a 23rd try on his 18th representative appearance.

Calderwood, who scored a try in England's 40-18 defeat of Tonga in the group stages, went over in first-half injury time to help turn a tenuous 12-10 lead into an eight-point cushion.

In a virtual repeat of their earlier encounter at The Stoop, the slow-starting Tongans were forced to rally after conceding two early tries.

Winger David Hodgson, who had one try disallowed by the video referee for putting a foot in touch, made amends by sending captain Rob Purdham over in the 12th minute, after second-rower Lee Radford had created the opening with an neat


Ferres, one of the stars of the tournament, took advantage of a defensive comedy of errors to grab a second, and, with Jamie Rooney adding both

conversions, England looked set to cruise to victory.

But the spirited Tongans recovered superbly, with centre Taniela Tuiaki using his amazing strength to force his way over from close range and former London Broncos favourite Feleti Mateo taking a return pass from loose forward Willie Tupou to score a second try.

Mateo's first successful goal cut the deficit to just two points but substitute forward Nick Scruton came up with a break in injury time to set up the position for Calderwood to strike an ultimately decisive blow.

Harlequins centre Tyrone Smith typified the never-say-die quality of the islanders when he forced his way over for his side's third try on 50 minutes, and England were indebted to a terrific tackle from substitute Lee Smith which

brought down Mateo as he threatened the line.

England eventually withstood a tremendous onslaught with the aid of a relieving break out of defence by Calderwood and right-winger David Hodgson sealed the victory when he cut inside for his side's fourth try.

Tonga were reduced for a second time to 12 men with the sin-binning of substitute Joe Falomaki and they were punished for their indiscipline when

Calderwood produced another searing break to set up Rooney.

The game then turned into a farce as tempers became frayed and Rooney took some heat out of the situation by kicking a penalty to complete the scoring and maintain his 100% record with the boot.

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