Tongans happy despite defeat

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Taniela Moa (AP Photo)
Taniela Moa (AP Photo)

Auckland - An early bout of World Cup nerves aside, Tongan coach Isitolo Maka and his brother and captain Finau were delighted by their side's try and second-half defensive effort against the mighty All Blacks on Friday.

Tonga ended the opening match of the World Cup without a point after the 41-10 loss at Eden Park but they will have taken away many positives from their determined display after forcing the All Blacks into a string of mistakes.

"We showed some good defence and even scored a try, last time we played against this team they put 100 points on us so to score 10 points against the All Blacks, I'm very, very happy with the players," Isitolo Maka told reporters at Eden Park.

The All Blacks raced into a 29-3 halftime lead after some ragged play by Tonga and coach Maka said the occasion of opening the tournament had played its part.

"I was happy the score was only 41 points but the way we played in the first half I was disappointed with because we trained well all week and a few mistakes cost us a lot of scores," the beefy Maka explained.

"Some of the players looked really nervous out there, some of the new players were probably overwhelmed by the occasion.

"At the half, I said to the players make sure they don't get over 40 points but I was very happy how we played in the second half."

Captain and flanker Finau was delighted that his side had maintained their discipline and come back strongly, particularly as the Tongans have so often fallen to big defeats after conceding early tries.

"The boys hung in there, not giving up, I thought there was some good positive stuff coming out of that second half. We have to learn from that and look forward to the next game.

The highlight of the match for the Tongans was the second half try they scored after some great ball retention and patience while their forwards hammered away at the sturdy All Black defensive line.

Eventually, after around 20 phases of play, Alisona Taumalolo picked up the ball from the back of the ruck and drove over the line.

"My wife and my kids and my mum and my dad and every Tongan supporter out there, I tried to do my best for them," Taumalolo said.

"I think I'll never forget this, I hope for more to come."

The Tongans face Canada in their second Pool A match on Wednesday.

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