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Ireland lose close one against Tonga

Before the game Ireland had been written off and the bookies were expecting a big victory for the Tongans but the final score of 22 - 20 was heart break for the Irish team who deserved something out of the game.
Ireland lose close one against Tonga
by NRL

Before the game Ireland had been written off and the bookies were expecting a big victory for the Tongans but the final score of 22 - 20 was heart break for the Irish team who deserved something out of the game.

The game started off with great power following the Tongan haka and the Irish were in hard as the Tongans had first possession. The intentions were clear from the start as Tonga went wide to try and go round the compact Irish defence.

The first major test was for Ireland's full back, Michael Platt, who was tested with a huge bomb the swirled around. His fumble was mopped up by Blanch. Next the Tongan's broke down the right but dropped the ball just short of the line.

The pressure finally told and Tonga again went to the right and broke the defence for the games first try which was successfully converted.

Some may have thought that the flood gates were about to open but they were very wrong. Ireland carried the ball forward with purpose and Tonga were making mistakes and giving away penalties and some shots were creeping up over the shoulder. Referee Ganson had his hands full.

Tonga did break again and another well placed kick dropped just under the Ireland cross bar but the video referee deemed that Tonga knocked on. Shortly after this the Tongan wing was sin binned and Ireland had a man advantage for ten minutes and took the advantage well.

After good build up, a clever move ended with Damien Blanch scoring in the corner. Richards couldn't convert but the game was very much on. Shortly after the first score came a second that the video referee was asked to adjudicate on.

The play saw several offloads and excellent passes before what looked like a forward pass put Platt over from close range and although he was made to work he grounded and Richards added the extras to make it 10 - 6.

Ireland had the scent and continued to pressure the Tongan defence and a length of the field move just failed to result in a score as the final ball missed Blanch by a whisker and went into touch. Almost immediately there was a 12 point swing as Irelands failed effort was punished with a score for Tonga.

A well weighted kick looked to be Platt's ball but an awkward bounce and good chase saw the Tongan winger get the smallest downward pressure and it was all square.

As half time approached the Tongans were back to 13 men and looked like they were going to extend the lead.

In the last minute of the half they got a penalty close to the Irish line but surprisingly opted for the 2 points which were duly dispatched and half time saw 12 -10 Tonga.

The second half got underway to great voice from the large Irish crowd and the Blarney Army were making themselves heard as were the good Tongan contingent.

Ireland had the first opportunity and Richards leapt highest to claim the high ball but lost possession as he attempted to ground.

The Tongans were again reduced to 12 when Mateo had a few too many words to Ganson and again Ireland had a golden opportunity. Great play and a fantastic offload from Gleeson saw Blanch score his second and although the kick was missed Ireland were looking like an upset was on the cards at 14 -12.

From the kick off Fitzpatrick caught the excellent deep kick but went dead. From the drop out the Tongans went to the short side and Ireland drove the Tongans over the line and the pride was evident for all to see.

After good defence the score of the game came when the 5th tackle structure of Ireland was not in unison and the Tongans took an opportunistic attempt and some great passing saw them score and convert to go back in front 18 - 14.

With the game coming into the final stages a great short kick turned the Tongan defence and Blanch caught the ball and grounded just in time. From the touchline Richards slotted the conversion to take Ireland into a two point lead at 20 - 18.

The crowd sensed that the Tongans were tiring and the Irish had belief that this might just be their day but the quality of Mateo came through and a 40/20 kick left Ireland defending a scrum on their own line.

The Tongans capitalised and although the kick was missed they had the lead back with only a few minutes left. Ireland had opportunities as the clock counted down but dropped balls and a little lack of composure resulted in Tonga keeping the ball as the hooter sounded.

The final score of 22 - 20 to Tonga was far from what had been predicted and the crowd had been treated to a great game that neither side deserved to lose.

Ireland was devastated after the game and now regroup to face a Samoan side that will be wary of the so called underdogs. Tonga take on Samoa first and Ireland will be hoping that this is a massively physical game.

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