All Blacks decimate Tonga's Ikale Tahi
Pacific pride at stake as Tonga focuses on next test against Manu Samoa at Hamilton's FMG Stadium on July 17.
4th July, 2021
There will be a few bruised egos in Tonga’s Ikale Tahi camp following last night’s 102-zip drubbing by the All Blacks at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
With 13 new caps and key players still in quarantine Ikale Tahi braved not just a bitterly cold winter night but the onslaught of the world’s finest rugby team in prime shape after Super Rugby.
All Black winger Will Jordan decimated all hope for Tonga touching down five tries - one short of Marc Ellis’ record of six tries against Japan in the 1995 World Cup.
Tonga’s Head coach Toutai Kefu cast the net wide to bring together a brand new squad many of whom play club rugby or on overseas contracts.
Strict quarantine conditions around COVID 19 meant some international players were yet to complete quarantine missing out selection for last night's test.
The Steinlager Pacific Rugby Series has brought together Samoa, Tonga and Fiji fulfilling NZ and World Rugby's quota of engaging with Tier Two nations and providing valuable game time with the All Blacks.
It is also the decider for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Ikale Tahi skipper Sonatane Takulua was gracious in defeat describing the behind the scenes anguish management and the team was dealing with.
"Some of the boys are still in quarantine. We came here to do our best.
"To all our supporters, thank you for taking time to come and support the boys. That's all we can do, give it our all. Hats off to the ABs."
All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock acknowledged the challenges Tonga faced to get to the series in Auckland.
"I just wanted to say thank you to Tonga for all the hardships they've been through," Whitelock said.
"Obviously quarantine is not easy but they went out there and did themselves proud and I just wanted to thank them personally."
Tonga's head coach Toutai Kefu knows his team has just under two weeks to recoup and recharge before their next test against Manu Samoa at Hamilton's FMG Stadium on July 17.
For Toutai beating Manu Samoa is the ultimate goal for Ikale Tahi because it will decide which of the two teams qualifies for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.