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Tonga becomes the first team except New Zealand to beat Australia at Rugby League in 41 years with a stunning upset in Auckland

A Tonga invitational XIII have pulled off one of the greatest upsets in rugby league history by taking down world champions Australia 16-12 in Auckland.

In front of a pulsating crowd of 25,257 at Eden Park on Saturday night, the Tongans came back from six points down at halftime to claim a famous victory.

It is Australia's first defeat to a side other than New Zealand, England or Great Britain since going down to France in 1978.

Tonga becomes the first team except New Zealand to beat Australia at Rugby League in 41 years with a stunning upset in Auckland

A Tonga invitational XIII have pulled off one of the greatest upsets in rugby league history by taking down world champions Australia 16-12 in Auckland

However, despite the loss, Kangaroos skipper Boyd Cordner lifted the inaugural Oceania Cup after Australia finished first in their pool on for-and-against.

The Kangaroos were leading by six in the second half on Saturday when Kotoni Staggs was held up over the line by Daly Cherry-Evans.

They didn't have to wait for long to cut into the deficit however, with Michael Jennings scoring off a Will Hopoate cutout pass a minute later.

The raucous sea of red was then sent into raptures when Tevita Pangai Junior crashed over off a no-look short ball close to the line for Tonga to claim the lead.

Both teams had several desperate chances to add to the scoreboard, including a last-gasp cut-out pass to Australia's Nick Cotric that went into touch.

Tonga players were in tears as soon as the fulltime siren sounded soon after, prompting Jason Taumalolo to claim their victory was better than a premiership.

'It's right up there alongside the premiership. I reckon probably go on further and be my biggest game,' Taumalolo said.

'This is my highlight of my career.'

The Kangaroos entered the match as hot favourites with a side boasting James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Damien Cook, David Klemmer and Cordner.

In front of a pulsating crowd of 25,257 at Eden Park on Saturday night, the Tongans came back from six points down at halftime to claim a famous victory

Tonga though breathed life into the international game since the defections of Andrew Fifita and Taumalolo from Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Those moves in 2017 resulted in a fairytale semi-final finish at the World Cup, and they will now be dreaming of sitting on top perch after their historic triumph.

Their rise as a powerhouse has been pushed by a passionate fanbase that has been in full voice for every one of their contests since.

And again they were on song for the last match of Saturday's triple-header, setting the scene for another memorable encounter against the world No.1 nation.

Tonga got off to the perfect start when Hopoate took advantage of a quick Taumalolo play-the-ball to scurry over in the 21st minute.

However the Kangaroos were quick to regain the ascendancy by halftime courtesy of two tries in six minutes to Jack Wighton and Paul Vaughan.

Taumalolo was among Tonga's best with 147 metres and six tackle breaks, while he was well supported by Daniel Tupou and his 168 metres.

Tedesco led Australia with 191 metres and eight tackle busts.

'We're hurting a little bit, obviously,' Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said.

'We've got no excuses, our prep was really good. Tonga come up with a plan and executed better than us really.

'We probably weren't composed or patient with the footy, particularly in the second half. We turned the ball over a fair bit and were our own worst enemies.'

Jason Taumalolo captain of Tonga during the national anthem during the Rugby League International Test match

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