Tonga laid down a real marker today.
Agaimst a very good Cook Islands side with NRL and Super League stars in their 17 who were seen as dark horses to get out the group, Tonga followed in the footsteps of England yesterday with a 90-point scoreline of their own.
They defeated the Cook Islands 92-10 with a brilliant performance as Tui Lolohea bagged a brace of tries and ran the show whilst Jason Taumalolo scored twice on his return.
Perhaps the highlight of the game came in the last try however when Brad Takairangi intercepted the ball and instead of scoring he passed the ball to teammate Tinirau Arona to score on his final approach.
But as the game was taken to a new place in the shape of Middlesborough’s Riverside Stadium, how many fans attended the game.
A total of 8,342 fans were in attendance in Middlesborough which is seventh most of the tournament.
It sits behind England’s three games which had attendances of 43,000, 23,000 and 18,000 respectively whilst the other games to attract bigger attendances have been New Zealand vs Ireland with 14,000, Australia vs Fiji with 13,000 and Tonga vs Papua New Guinea in front of 10,000.
These three games were at Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley Stadium and St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium so to see a stadium from outside the rugby league world not so far behind is pleasing.
It’s well above the average attendance of the tournament which is around 6,000.