RugbyL: Fiji stun New Zealand, Tonga survive Lebanon scare

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RugbyL: Fiji stun New Zealand, Tonga survive Lebanon scare

RugbyL: Fiji stun New Zealand, Tonga survive Lebanon scare

Christchurch (New Zealand) (AFP) - Fijian players wept for joy after pulling off a stunning 4-2 victory over New Zealand in a tryless World Cup encounter in Wellington on Saturday, to book a semi-final berth against Australia.

In an error-riddled quarter-final, in which both sides were plagued by handling errors and struggled to complete their sets, tier-two Fiji outscored former champions New Zealand by two penalties to one.

The win pitches Fiji into a semi-final against holders Australia for the third successive World Cup and dumps New Zealand, the 2008 World champions, out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage.

Earlier, Tonga fended off a desperate finish by Lebanon to claim a thrilling 24-22 victory in an intense quarter-final in Christchurch. They will face either England or Papua New Guinea in the other semi-final.

New Zealand were looking for redemption after being toppled by another tier-two side, Tonga, last week. But instead they had to take a back seat for a second time.

They were humbled by Jarryd Hayne's Fijians, who showed considerably more desire and flair to win in the first-ever rugby league international between the two countries.

From the opening whistle the Fijians rocked the Kiwis and never eased the pressure in the first half to turn with a 2-0 lead after dominating possession.

By full-time, Fiji's hold on possession had slipped but at no stage did they surrender the lead.

As Fiji piled on the early pressure, fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was twice called upon to make try-saving tackles. The islanders were denied another scoring opportunity when Brayden Wiliame lost the ball over the line.

The only points in the first spell came from an Apisai Koroisau penalty goal in the 13th minute.

New Zealand equalised through a Shaun Johnson penalty three minutes into the second half.

Minutes later, Fiji opted to run the ball rather than take a handy shot at goal when Jordan Rapana was sent to the sin bin.

But when that did not pay off they did not hesitate to take the kick when awarded another penalty with 20 minutes remaining, and Taane Milne put the islanders ahead 4-2.

As the match ticked down to the final whistle New Zealand attacked the Fiji line but to no avail.

With 90 seconds remaining, Rapana chipped towards the line for Brad Takairangi to run on to. But the kick went too far and Fiji were able to run the clock down.

In Christchurch, Tonga led 22-16 at half-time and the telling two-point difference at the end was achieved early in the second half when Ata Hingano landed a pressure penalty goal.

The Pacific Islanders were making the play-offs for the first time, but largely part-time Lebanon had three close try-scoring attempts disallowed by the referee.

England face Papua New Guinea in the remaining quarter-final in Melbourne on Sunday.