Trailing 20-18 in the dying moments of a Rugby League World Cup quarter-final, Tonga needed the kind of magic that nearly saw them complete the most miraculous comeback in World Cup history in 2017 as they were inches away from snatching glory from England five years ago.
Kristian Woolf’s men even got a six again but in the end wasted the opportunity with Tui Lolohea’s grubber kick being blocked by Samoan defenders as they clung onto their place in the semi-finals where they’ll meet England at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
After the game, Sam Tomkins was critical of Huddersfield Giants star Lolohea for not taking the game by the scruff of the neck in this last set.
Now, talking to the BBC, Bradford Bulls legend Robbie Hunter-Paul analysed what went from for the pivot: “Tui Lolohea is one of the best composures of a grubber kick, but one thing that he does with this kick, he kicks it way too far off the line.
“He’s not engaging any players, that’s too easy to defend.”
Tomkins echoed the praise of Lolohea as one of the best kickers around, but also noted that this last kick wasn’t what Tonga needed: “He created huge pressure in the first half doing the same thing.
“I’ve played with and against Tui, his short kicking game is one of the very best but that last kick wasn’t where it needed to be.”