26 Nov 2017

Tongan fans protest controversial World Cup knock-out

10:22 pm on 26 November 2017

Hundreds of Tongan rugby league supporters marched through central Auckland this afternoon saying they were robbed of a World Cup final.

In a thrilling semi-final, England held off a late surge by the Mate Ma'a Tongan side to win 20-18 at Mount Smart Stadium.

Tonga's Andrew Fifita was denied a try in the dying moments in controversial circumstances and fans were disappointed by what they said was biased refereeing.

The tournament has been a triumph for the Pacific nation who have never made it so far in the Rugby League World Cup.

Torisse Laulu, one of the organisers of the protest, said the event was also about celebrating the team's achievements and showing pride in the Tongan culture.

She was overwhelmed by the turnout.

"This is the first time we've ever made it this far, beating a tier one team, and to be robbed of something as simple as a review, it's a shame," she said.

Torisse Laula, who is Samoan said Tonga had captured the pride of all Pacific nations and Mate Ma'a Tonga deserved better.

The protesters sang hymns at the waterfront.

The legions of fans were escorted by police as they made their way up Queen St to Aotea Square.

Referees boss backs controversial call

Meanwhile, Rugby League World Cup referees' boss Tony Archer has defended the decision to deny Tonga what would have been a game-winning try in their loss to England.

The Tonga camp were left fuming when the match referee Matt Cecchin failed to refer the last play of the game to the video referee to determine whether a try had been scored.

But Archer said Cecchin's call on the field was the right one and the Australian remained in contention to oversee next week's final between England and Australia.

Archer said even if the decision had been referred to the video referee, no try would have resulted as the ball was clearly knocked on.


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