2017 Rugby League World Cup - Tonga vs England Preview

The Lowdown


  • Tonga had to hold on to defeat Lebanon in their quarter-final last weekend, sneaking past the Cedars by just two points to book a semi-final match-up against England.
  • Tonga have averaged 5.75 tries per game in this tournament so far but will face a big test against England's improving defence that has conceded 10 points or less in their last three games.
  • Kristian Woolf makes two changes to his side with Sio Siua Taukeiaho returning to the side alongside Peni Terepo. Joe Ofahengaue and Ukuma Ta'ai are the men to miss out.

Head Coach: Kristian Woolf

Team: Hopoate; Tupou, Jennings, Hurrell, Fusitu'a; Lolohea, Hingano; Fifita, Havili, Taukeiaho, Ma'u, Manu, Taumalolo

Bench: Katoa, Terepo, Pangai Junior, Murdoch-Masila


  • England produced one of their better displays of the tournament as they were comfortable winners over Papua New Guinea last week, seeing off the Kumuls 36-6.
  • That win saw England win their sixth World Cup match out of their last eight attempts but they will have to build on last week's performance if they are to overcome the powerful Tonga side.
  • Wayne Bennett has named an unchanged side from the win over PNG but has a couple of injury concerns. Kevin Brown faces a race against time to be fit after suffering a head knock in last week's game whilst Sam Burgess picked up an ankle knock.

Head Coach: Wayne Bennett

Team: Widdop; McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall; Brown, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Graham, S. Burgess, Whitehead, O'Loughlin

Bench: Walmsley, T. Burgess, Currie, Roby

Analysis - what to expect
England and Tonga meet in the second World Cup semi-final with both sides fancying their chances of victory. In a game that could go either way, the bookies make England four-point favourites which highlights how close this could be. England produced an improved performance against PNG but their game was still littered with errors whilst Tonga were also far from their best as they narrowly held on against Lebanon. Both sides will be expecting a big improvement on their last outing as they look to qualify for the final. The game could be won out wide with England's Kallum Watkins and Jermaine McGillvary striking up a fearsome partnership on the right edge. They will come up against Daniel Tupou and Michael Jennings in a key contest that could help determine the winner. This game is a genuine coin-toss with either side able to win the game but if Tonga's forwards get on top then they can be the side to reach the final in a fiercely competitive contest.