AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 20: Andrew Fifita of Tonga leads the Sipi Tau during the International Test match between Tonga and Australia at Mount Smart Stadium on October 20, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Every time the Rugby League World Cup rolls around, we all utter the same three nations in unison.

'Australia, New Zealand, England'. Usually in that order.

Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita's defection from Tier 1 nations to join Tonga had them uttered in fourth, while the amount to have jumped ship to Samoa will give them a massive boost this year.

But while we live to watch our nation succeed, it's hard not to crack a smile when one of the minnow nations snare an upset, or go almighty close to doing so. The underdog, the 'making up the numbers' sides, the ones you can't help but root for in a neutral contest.

Outside of the World Cup, we've seen some beauties. The Kangaroos last match was a standalone test defeat to the hands of Tonga in late 2019, a sour note for Australia to end on before COVID's reign began.

And you've got the 18-18 draw between Scotland and New Zealand at the 2016 Four Nations tournament, you can't help but get behind the little guy.

The little guy doesn't win often. Outside of the code, Japan's 34-32 victory over South Africa in the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup is still talked about today, seven years on.

They're few and far between, but these minnow performances are special all the same.


5. New Zealand 25 - Tonga 24

1995 Rugby League World Cup

Oh so close, but yet so far.

The Tongan side of 1995 was totally outgunned by a Kiwi's outfit possessing names like Matthew Ridge, Ruben Wiki, Quentin Pongia, Stacey Jones and Tony Iro, 15 of their 17 players were contracted to an Australian or New Zealand top-grade side, while the other two hailed from the Super League.

Tonga had just four players from the Australian competition, just one from the Super League, and were so short on troops, they could only name 15 players for the clash.

It should've been 60-0.

Tonga put in a valiant first-half with the Kiwis only leading 12-6 at the break, however it was easy to assume that New Zealand were about come home with a wet sail and put the Pacific nation to the sword.

They didn't.

Tonga showed some alright fightback as they clawed it back to 24-24, with only a Matthew Ridge field goal separating the pair.

Tonga actually won the second-half 18-13, and what no many people realise about the contest, it was their first ever match at a Rugby League World Cup.

They played two matches at the tournament, for a loss and a draw, and wouldn't win a World Cup match until 2000, although their fortunes have changed, but we'll get to that later.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 31: (L-R) Wairangi Koopu of the Warriors shakes hands with team-mate Ruben Wiki after the round 25 NRL match between the Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium on August 31, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)