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Rugby World Cup: Underdogs Tonga chasing an historic win over New Zealand

By Staff Reporter

Tonga are talking up their chances of following Japan's lead and pulling off the second big Rugby World Cup upset.

The Pacific Islanders caused a major boilover at the 2011 tournament, beating France 19-14 in Wellington to narrowly miss out on making the quarter-finals.

Tongan captain Nili Latu is hoping his men, 26/1 outsiders with New Zealand bookmakers, can replicate that feat against the All Blacks at St James' Park in Newcastle tomorrow.

"Hopefully tomorrow will be the day that the All Blacks are caught cold," Latu said, promising to challenge the defending champions and chase a historic victory.

"We are going to take the game to the All Blacks. Sometimes when you fight fire with fire, you get burned, but that's how we will play tomorrow.

"It would definitely be the highlight of my career if we do beat the All Blacks."

Despite losing to Georgia and scraping past Namibia 35-21 in their only pool win, Tongan coach Mana Otai also believes the underdogs are capable of inflicting the All Blacks' first World Cup group-stage defeat.

"It is possible," he said. "We showed that back in 2011 and it has been seen during this tournament. Who would have thought Japan would beat South Africa?

"We have been looking at mental preparation and the small mistakes that we made [against Georgia]. We will need to minimise those mistake and capitalise on those of our opposition."

Charles Piutau's brother, former Counties Manukau and Highlanders midfielder Siale, touched on what an improbable Tongan victory would mean to the next generation.

"One of our goals was to leave a legacy behind and tomorrow if we do well - if we get that win - we can inspire a lot of young Tongans growing up," he said,

Pool C: St James' Park, New Zealnd v Tonga, Newcastle 8pm (ITV4)


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