Celebrations and arrests follow Tonga's historic league win

League fans took to the streets of south Auckland on Saturday night to celebrate Tonga's historic win over the Kiwis in Hamilton.

Down 16-2 at half-time, the Tongans stormed back in the second half to beat New Zealand for the first time, 28-22.

Raucous celebrations in Otahuhu kicked off almost immediately but soon spiralled into disorder, with police making 53 arrests.

Police urged locals to steer clear of the Otahuhu town centre as they struggled to deal with surging crowds. More than 50 officers were dispatched, many redeployed from other parts of town.

"What started out as a celebration turned into mass disorder involving traffic gridlock, drunkenness and violence," said Counties Manukau's Snr Sgt Clive Wood.

"As family groups, revellers and other sports fans moved away and headed home a hard core of people occupied the streets, let off fireworks near a petrol station, threw missiles at police, obstructed roads and foot paths and behaved in a very disorderly manner."

At one point, an ambulance was prevented from getting to a medical emergency.

"These people, who appeared to have no care for anyone's welfare, didn't think about the consequences of their actions and I do hope they take time out to reflect on how badly they behaved," said Snr Sgt Wood.

The chaos follows weeks of clashes and celebrations centred around league fans, as the Rugby League World Cup rolls on.

Earlier in the evening, two people tried to invade the field at Hamilton's FMG Stadium, four others were arrested and 33 people were evicted. The two pitch invaders face up to $5000 in fines and three months in prison.

Police said they were otherwise happy with the crowd's behaviour.

"It's just been amazing," said Waikato District operations commander Insp Karen Henrikson. "The whole stadium was rocking back and forth with the exuberance of the crowd."

The Tongan side will head to Christchurch for the quarter-final, while the Kiwis will look to bounce back next week in Wellington, probably against Lebanon.

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