Mate Ma'a Tonga and the Papua New Guinea Kumuls will square off in one of the most anticipated matches during Week 1 of the Rugby League World Cup on Wednesday morning (AEDT).

Zero Tackle will cover the game live, with kick-off scheduled for 5:30am (AEDT).

In a game which is almost destined to decide top spot in Group D - and who avoids hosts England until the semi-finals - Tonga will bring an almighty pack of forwards into the game against the Kumuls silky smooth backline.

Refresh the page for live scores and commentary below.


Match time Fulltime
Tonga vs PNG




4 Tries 3
4 Conversions 3
0 Penalty goals 0
0 Field goals 0

Match summary

Tonga 24 (Tries: Will Penisini, Moeaki Fotuaika, Isaiya Katoa, Keaon Koloamatangi; Conversions: Isaiya Katoa 4/4) defeat Papua New Guinea 18 (Tries: Rhyse Martin, Edwin Ipape, Dan Russell; Conversions: Rhyse Martin 3/3)


7:25am (AEDT)
Just an excellent game. That lived up to all the hype that was suggested before kick-off. There was certainly some clunkiness from both sides, but hard hits, big runs, excellent attack.

That game had it all.

Thanks for joining us here on Zero Tackle, and be sure to stay tuned for more Rugby League World Cup coverage in the coming weeks.

7:20am (AEDT)
Well, that's that. What an incredible game of rugby league that was as Tonga claim a victory over Papua New Guinea.

7:17am (AEDT)
Katoa converts.

86 seconds to play.

7:14am (AEDT)
Field goal shootout surely about to begin here with no extra time available. A huge run from Suli gets Tonga on the roll, then Taukeiaho goes with a big one up the middle. Luke out of dummy half, and Lolohea offloads on five to Olakau'atu, with Fifita then settling back to the middle.

Here comes the shot... Or not, Luke dummies, throws an offload out the back, ball to ground, Katoa back 35 out, they go right, Penisini right, Katoa offloads from the sideline, Taukeiaho a grubber and HOW! How have they scored?

That was absolutely unbelievable. Tonga were set for a field goal, butchered it from every angle and then off a Taukeiaho desperation grubber Keaon Koloamatangi scores.

Bit of push and shove in the background.

7:13am (AEDT)
Isaiya Katoa then with a shot from 40 metres out to put Tonga back in front.

Biggest moment of the 18-year-old's life. Basically, a kick that could see Tonga avoid England in the quarter-finals, but that was wide and didn't have the legs.

So, we remain tied up with five and a half minutes to play.

7:11am (AEDT)
Inside of eight minutes to go then and the game is still all squared up in St Helens. Tonga still appear to be ever so slightly ahead in the possession and territory battle, but they need to find points. Koloamatangi stood up in a two-man tackle here, and yes. A cannonball.

It looked bad. Very bad. Ipape it was attacking below the knee.

Tonga to take the shot at penalty goal.

7:09am (AEDT)
Well, now we wait to see when the field goal shootout begins. Both teams working up the middle third. Strong set after points from the Kumuls, then Mate Ma'a back over halfway with a strong set. Lolohea kicks from 35 out and Johnston goes it against the sideline.

7:06am (AEDT)
Here we go! Papua New Guinea are over from the scrum off that devastating error from Koula out of dummy half. The Kumuls swing it left off the scrum through Lam for Johnston, and his final pass for Russell after dragging in the defence is spot on! He scores, and this kick from Rhyse Martin to come is enormous.

From the sideline... Martin NAILS IT! We are all square with 11 minutes to go.

7:04am (AEDT)
Papua New Guinea's attack ends with a Laybutt grubber. Tonga came up with the ball off it, but then Koula makes a mistake out of dummy half on Tackle 2!

The Kumuls will have a full set off a scrum from ten metres out.

7:02am (AEDT)
The Kumuls pinged for an error, but a captain's challenge will see this call changed to a strip, and Papua New Guinea win a penalty to again stay in what has been an excellent game.

6:57am (AEDT)
Tonga now barging their way back onto the attack after Olam makes an error for the Kumuls on halfway. You feel that the next try could win this one, and Mate Ma'a with a huge chance right now. David Fifita is going to provide as well! He runs onto a short ball, into some stagnant defence, spins through a few and claims the try.

Referee Liam Moore sends it to the video referee as a no try. Fifita was certainly confident.

Going to be difficult to overrule this. Ball definitely never gets to the ground, and not only that, Fifita lets go of the ball, so it'll be a knock on.

6:54am (AEDT)
Tonga just struggling to play anywhere near their potential here. Clunky attack is followed by an error and Lam sends Olam onto the counter attack, the Kumuls then taking Tackle 1 on halfway.

PNG will push onto the attack at the back end of this set. Nene Macdonald gets away with a seeming error, before they set things up centre field. A grubber goes through and Tonga will take it through Katoa who is tackled a metre out from his own line.

6:51am (AEDT)
Well, off the back of that no try, Tonga are back onto the attack here. They swing it to the left-hand side now and Suli goes barrelling towards the line, but is pulled down. Two plays remain, but they burn one, and then the second sees a grubber cut off by the Kumls who continue to stay in the game.

6:48am (AEDT)
What a tackle! Tolutau Koula has put his entire body on the line here to batter Rodrick Tai who was about to go over for a try in the corner.

Video referee called in. There is still a question around the try, but this could well have been a shoulder charge as well.

First things first. The tackle isn't a shoulder charge. Tai has hit the corner post which isn't out of play, virtually slid down it and planted the ball. The only question now is whether the left hand has touched the touch in goal line oe not... And in fact, this is going to be a try.

Or not. The video referee believes the ball has touched the touch in goal line. That decision is met by resounding boos.

6:42am (AEDT)
The two teams continue to just trade set for set at the moment... Meanwhile, David Fifita is about to come onto the park for the Tongans.

6:40am (AEDT)
Game just starting to settle into something of a rhythm here, with Tonga ever so slightly on top as they win the possession and territory battle.

Tonga have also just brought Siosifa Talakai on, with David Fifita still to hit the field.

6:38am (AEDT)
The Kumuls back to halfway this set, before McKenzie Yei puts a kick down the ground, with Koula to bring it back for Mate Ma'a. They will come back to halfway, then Lolohea punches a kick early in the set to the corner with Johnston trapped in his own ten.

6:36am (AEDT)
Right then, here are Tonga on the attack. They will have to wait until the last play though, shifting to the right-hand side as they look to put it through the hands, but to ground goes the ball and then over the sideline as it rolls through the legs of Sione Katoa on the wing.

6:35am (AEDT)
Whatever the Kumuls were told at the break, it's worked. Papua New Guinea rumbling back up field again with plenty of hard runs, but they do eventually make an error from Nixon Putt on halfway.

6:33am (AEDT)
We are back underway for the second half here. Tonga kick off through Tuimoala Lolohea to get us rumbling again. AND WOW! Papua New Guinea are in. Incredible work there. They get over halfway, Ipape then goes out of dummy half, beats the line, beats the cover, then throws an offload away to Lachlan Lam who scores.

Incredible from Ipape.

Martin converts.

6:30am (AEDT)
Teams are back for the second half.

6:17am (AEDT)
Right then, Tonga have the upper hand, but Papua New Guinea certainly have the ability to run on points in a hurry, so this certainly isn't over.

Stick around, and we will be back soon for the second half.

6:15am (AEDT)
Confusion then to end the first half, and the Kumuls won't have a late chance, because they have given away a penalty for a shot clock infringement on the scrum.

Tonga with the final set of the first half, and they are going to have a bit of a crack out of their own end. Penisini tackled on the second, before they swing it left and Koula is over halfway. The siren will sound and Tonga take the lead into the halftime break.

Papua New Guinea with a strong start, but they have dropped away at the back end there just a little bit, with late tries for Tonga pushing them into a strong position at the break.

6:13am (AEDT)
Well, that will give the Kumuls a late chance here as Sione Katoa drops the kick-off.

6:12am (AEDT)
Well, I said it a little while ago - the benches could make all the difference here, and that's proving to be the way as Tonga start to run on a very downhill path now. A big shift out of their own end to the left-hand side, with Suli busting his way through the line off a ball from Isaiya Katoa, passing inside to the man who kicked the play off and the 18-year-old runs away to score.

Katoa converts.

6:09am (AEDT)
Lolohea! Sells them up the absolute river there with a lovely dummy and a bit of footwork. Beats a number and gets a quick play the ball, before Keaon Koloamatangi throws an excellent inside ball to Moeaki Fotuaika who dives over under the goal posts to put Tonga back in front. Lovely work from Mate Ma'a right there.

Katoa converts.

6:06am (AEDT)
Tonga going for a big shift to their own left-hand side out of their own end, but the Kumuls defence equal to the challenge on this occasion. Last play from halfway and Lolohea will kick down to the corner, with Johnston to bring this back, where he beats one, beats two and almost a third.

6:05am (AEDT)
The Kumuls now onto the attack off the penalty and they are loving this left-hand side. Nixon Putt carries it into the line this time rather than hitting Johnston and Olam. They come left again out of dummy half, and Olam looks to barge over, but turns it over in the corner instead.

Not a bad place to hand back possession here.

6:04am (AEDT)
Fotuaika onto the park for Tonga now as well, and this is where the game could change in a big way, with the bench from Tonga being State of Origin calibre.

Tonga with an obstruction in the meantime and the Kumuls will have a penalty out of their own end.

6:02am (AEDT)
Tonga barrel their way onto the attack then. Soni Luke out there now as well. Taukeiaho very close to barging his way over on five, then on the last, they come left, Lolohea out of space, keeps it alive, Koula grubbers and Russell manages to come up with it for the Kumuls.

6:01am (AEDT)
And to add insult to injury then for the Kumuls, Mate Ma'a will get a piggyback out of their own end with a penalty called here.

5:59am (AEDT)
Right then, the Kumuls onto the attack here. Johnston, Laybutt and Lam continue to be in everything, with Johnston and Olam linking up on the left. Something from absolutely nothing here! Olam takes it from Johnston, drags the defence and then throws an excellent ball to Dan Russell who scores in the corner.

Video referee called in here to have a look at this one, just checking for the touchline. It looked good in real time, but the very top of Russell's boot has clipped the touchline.

5:56am (AEDT)
Tonga continuing to win the battle through the middle here, but they give away a penalty after a strong attacking set, with the Kumuls otherwise pinned in their own end.

5:54am (AEDT)
Justin Olam with space to roam on the left hand side now, taking a pass from Alex Johnston. He beat one or two, but ultimately a pass from Olam is picked off by Tonga.

Tonga now working it out of their own end and a very flat pass from Tatola is allowed to go, meaning the kick from Katoa is allowed to go, with Johnston pinned in his own corner.

5:52am (AEDT)
It's just all a bit sloppy at times here. Koloamatangi takes it into a tackle and throws a dodgy offload out the back this time, with Koula knocking on.

Halfway through the first half then and it's all square.

5:51am (AEDT)
Tonga almost go over off the scrum there, but make a mistake heading to the right-hand side.

Hard work now for the Kumuls as they try to bring it out of their own end, and Laybutt has to clear from inside his own 30, with Koula back to within ten of halfway.

5:49am (AEDT)
Tonga coming back onto the attack as they start to take over this game right now. Taukeiaho with a half break up the middle as well and they are inside the ten. Last play, left hand side, Katoa with a kick looking for Tupou, but Rodrick Tai manages to hang on there, knocking on.

5:46am (AEDT)
Was that forward? No says the referee and Will Penisini is over behind the posts for Tonga! Tolutau Koula with an excellent play in the lead up there on the kick return. He steps his way to the right-hand side, beats a number of defenders and then throws a wonderful pass to Penisini who streaks away.

Isaiya Katoa converts.

5:44am (AEDT)
Tonga need more of that. Great run from Suli as he tramples his way up the middle, then an offload and they stretch to the left with Daniel Tupou breaking the line and pushing inside 20. Tonga's first attacking opportunity of the game here as they come right on the last with a grubber from Lolohea. Johnston makes it back to the field of play though.

5:43am (AEDT)
The defence is incredibly shaky from Mate Ma'a here, and PNG were almost over again, but Ipape knocks the ball over trying to scoot out of dummy half and reach out to score.

5:42am (AEDT)
Papua New Guinea playing superbly here. They swing it left and Lachlan Lam creates the overlap, with Justin Olam almost putting Dan Russell over in the corner, but Katoa manages to slap down the pass into touch.

The Kumuls with a full set inside ten though.

5:41am (AEDT)
A very strong set after points for the Kumuls, and they turn it over ten metres out from their own line with a good kick to the corner from Laybutt. The Tongan forward pack now pinned in their own half, and that isn't something we thought we'd be saying too much about Mate Ma'a coming into this tournament given their forward pack. They will have to kick from inside their own 40 through Lolohea, and Rodrick Tai is back within 15 of halfway.

5:39am (AEDT)
A superb bit of work from Laybutt there to set the try up.

Martin converts his own try.
5:37am (AEDT)
Well, it has been a shaky old start for Tonga. Tatola puts it down coming out of trouble and the Kumuls will go back on the attack. Inside 20 on the second play through Johnston, before they swing it left again from Lam to Olam who looks dangerous, but is forced to offload with Putt then straightening things up. Albert up the middle, then it's Laybutt to Rhyse Martin and the captain crashes over for the opening try!

5:35am (AEDT)
A penalty then for Papua New Guinea as they come out of their own end, with Alick being clipped high by Taukeiaho. The Kumuls will now come onto the attack and it's all a little bit clunky early in the set. A ball hits the ground and Johnston straightens things up, before they come left and Russell appeared to be over, but a whistle has gone off for an obstruction.

Penalty Tonga.

5:32am (AEDT)
An immediate problem for Addin Fonua-Blake here on the third tackle of the game. He stays down after a tackle and replays show he just got stuck in an awkward position. Fonua-Blake was holding the back of his neck as if it was a crusher, but no penalty comes for it. Lolohea with a clearing kick and it's out into touch about 20 out from the Kumuls' line.

5:31am (AEDT)
Right, here we go. Papua New Guinea to kick-off. Liam Moore the referee.

5:29am (AEDT)
Goosebumps. The Sipi Tau is complete and we are ready to rumble in St Helens.

5:26am (AEDT)
Well, you can't tell me this doesn't mean anything to the groups of players. Passionate signing of the anthems, and now, for the Sipi Tau.

5:23am (AEDT)
The players have just come out onto the ground in St Helens. Small crowd, but as you'd expect for these two teams, they are making plenty of noise.

National anthems in a moment, then it'll be time for the Sipi Tau.

5:10am (AEDT)
Just getting to the bottom of the late changes. Isaiya Katoa is in for Tonga, with Talatau Amone the 18th man. Keaon Koloamatangi has also shifted to hooker in an odd call with Soni Luke going back to the bench. Haumole Olakau'atu shifts to the second row, Siosiua Taukeiaho to lock in his place and Tevita Tatola comes into the front row from the bench. Siosifa Talakai is also playing in place of Ben Murdoch-Masila.

For Papua New Guinea, Dan Russell will play on the wing, Nene Macdonald moves into the centres and Rodrick Tai goes to the other wing with Xavier Coates out of the side. McKenzie Yei and Emmanuel Waine both play from the bench, with Sherwin Tanbai the 18th man.

5:05am (AEDT)
Here are the final teams for this one then:

20. Tolutau Koula 2. Daniel Tupou 4. Viliami Penisini 19. Moses Suli 5. Sione Katoa 24. Isaiya Katoa 7. Tuimoala Lolohea 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 12. Keaon Koloamatangi 16. Tevita Tatola 11. Felise Kaufusi 15. Haumole Olakau'atu 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho
Interchange: 3. Siosifa Talakai 14. Soni Luke 17. Moeaki Fotuaika 18. David Fifita
18th man: 6. Talatau Amone

Papua New Guinea
1. Alex Johnston 15. Dan Russell 3. Nene Macdonald 4. Justin Olam 20. Rodrick Tai 6. Kyle Laybutt 7. Lachlan Lam 8. Wellington Albert 9. Edwin Ipape 10. Sylvester Namo 11. Nixon Putt 12. Rhyse Martin 13. Jacob Allick
Interchange: 16. Mckenzie Yei 17. Emmanuel Waine 18. Keven Appo 23. Watson Boas
18th man: 21. Sherwin Tanbai

4:45am (AEDT)
Hello and welcome to Zero Tackle's live coverage of the 2022 Rugby League World Cup, and what a cracking match this promises to be.

We get our first look at Tonga's excellent forward pack, and whether their spine will be able to stack up, against the rugby league-mad Papua New Guinea, one of only two countries on the planet where rugby league is the national sport.

This match - with Wales and the Cook Islands as the other two teams in Group D - will likely decide who finishes at the top of the pile and avoids England in a quarter-final, although Samoa could be equally as tricky if they manage to play anywhere near their potential.

Teams have been named, so we will have them for you ahead of kick-off at 5:30am (AEDT) - about 45 minutes from now.


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