By Stuart Iversen
Scotland claimed a remarkable 26-24 victory over Tonga last night at the Rugby League World Cup. Having initially surged into a 20-4 lead at the break the Scots looked like they had been pinned back as Tonga scored four consecutive tries after the restart to take a 24-20 lead. However, a last ditch Matty Russell try clinched a famous victory for the Bravehearts.
After the match Scotland coach Steve McCormack stated: “In the last 10 we held firm. My heart was in my mouth and I was not sitting comfortably, but we found a way to win. I am very proud to be associated with that.”
The Scotland team had previously courted some controversy, as only two players are associated to Scotland by birth and the rest are eligible through bloodlines. That didn’t stop them giving a compelling performance in wet and windy conditions at Derwent Park, where the largest crowd since 1994 gathered to witness the Scots victory in dramatic fashion.
The make up of the international squad draws comparisons to recent comments by Jack Wilshere, involving the English football team and the potential inclusion of Adnan Januzaj.
Wilshere controversially stated that only players born in England should be able to play for the international team. An opinion that drew criticism from South-African born, English international cricketer Kevin Pieterson.
Tonga’s coach Charlie Tonga described the shock defeat as “a bit of a wake up call.” Before going on to say “we now have to regroup and ask the boys to go out and do their best for the rest of the tournament.”
Meanwhile Scotland must now focus on Sunday’s return to Derwent Park for a match again Italy where they will be hoping to mantain their early momentum.