THIS is the third match in our series celebrating 100 years of international rugby league this week, going back to New Zealand's first tour of Australia and Great Britain in 1907.

This week's celebrations will conclude with the Northern Union versus New Zealand All Golds international at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday.

Here, we look back to New Zealand's World Cup clash with Tonga at Warrington's Wilderspool Stadium in 1995.


New Zealand 25 Tonga 24.

Sunday, October 8, 1995.

WARRINGTON fans took the Tongans to their hearts in this World Cup spectacular at Wilderspool.

The Tongans were 300-1 outsiders in group two and were expected to fail miserably against a New Zealand team fancied to reach the final.

But the underdogs came good and the neutral supporters - more than 8,000 of them - loved every minute of the pulsating battle.

From the moment Tonga retaliated to the New Zealand Haka with their own war dance, the Tongans had won over the Warrington crowd. Chants of Tonga, Tonga, Tonga' echoed around the stadium.

Tonga, skippered by former Warrington favourite Duane Mann, nearly pulled off the international upset of all time after rattling the Kiwis with some awesome powerhouse defence.

The rivalry between the two nations was ferocious. It was beaten only by the intensity as two teams of raw muscle went at each other hell for leather for a thrilling 80 minutes. Wilderspool had not seen tackling like it!

The Pacific Cup champions held a 24-12 lead with only 10 minutes to go, with one of their tries scored by substitute Salesi Finau, who was later to join Warrington Wolves.

But then the Kiwis got a grip to level the match at 24-24 with injury time left to play.

And up stepped Matthew Ridge, the New Zealand full back, to impose the cruellest of blows on to Tonga with a drop goal 2 minutes into injury time. It was sheer drama to the final whistle.

Duane Mann, who was voted man of the match, recalled: "The support we had from the terraces was fantastic.

"In the second half the roar from the Fletcher Street end spurred us on and it was an important part of our fight back from 12-6 down.

"At the end we did the war dance again as a mark of respect for the fans".

Scorers: New Zealand: Tries: Richie Blackmore 2, Sean Hoppe, Tony Kemp, Hitro Okesene. Goals: Matthew Ridge 2, Drop goal: Ridge. Tonga: Tries: Willie Wolfgramm, Una Taufa, Jimmy Veikoso, Salesi Finau. Goals: Asa Amone.

New Zealand: Matthew Ridge; Sean Hoppe, Richie Blackmore, Ruben Wiki, Richard Barnett; Gene Ngamu, Stacey Jones; Quentin Pongia, Syd Eru, Jason Lowries, Tony Iro, Stephen Kearney, Tony Kemp. Subs: Henry Paul, Hitro Okesene, Kevin Iro, Mark Horo.

Tonga: Asa Amone; Una Taufa, Tevita Vaikona, Phil Howlett, Jimmy Veikoso; Angelo Dymock, Willie Wolfgramm; Martin Masella, Duane Mann, Lee Hansen, George Mann, Solomon Haumono, Awen Guttenbail. Subs: Salesi Finau, Talite Liava'a, Luke Leilua, Taukolo Tonga.