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Matty Russell’s late try helped Scotland pull off a thrilling shock 26-24 victory against Tonga in their Rugby League World Cup clash at Derwent Park in Workington on Tuesday night.
The Bravehearts had dominated the opening half of the encounter despite falling behind to Glen Fisi’iahi’s early try as they touched down three times through Russell’s first of the game, Ben Fisher, who confirmed that he will retire from rugby league after the tournament, and Brett Carter.
Huddersfield Giants’ Man of Steel Danny Brough did his job with the kicking and Scotland went in 20-4 ahead at the interval.
Tonga hit back after the break with four unanswered tries courtesy of Sika Manu’s brace, Nafe Seluini and Willie Manu.
Scotland then came back with Russell’s try, converted by Brough, with eight minutes to go setting up a dramatic finish.
The Scots held on for a famous win, which matches their success against Fiji at the 2008 World Cup, and coach Steve McCormack said:
“Many people didn’t give us a chance looking at that Tonga team, who showed glimpses, but we found a way to win.
“That is up there with the best Scotland have ever had.
“We earned everything we got. Tonga were brilliant for 30 minutes, but we found a way to win.”
Scotland will look to follow up their opening win when they face are next in action on Sunday when they take on Group C leaders Italy.