Rugby League: Emotional pre-game scenes at Mate Ma'a Tonga vs Australia

Fan support for the Tongan rugby league team turned to tears in an emotional rendition of their pre-game national anthem at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium.

Moments before the historic clash between Mate Ma'a Tonga and the world champion Australian Kangaroos, the sold-out stadium reverberated with an inspiring version of 'Ko e fasi ʻo e tuʻi ʻo e ʻOtu Tonga', sung by young South Auckland musical artist General Fiyah, 12.

About 26,000 spectators joined in the anthem and some Tongan players openly wept.

The national team responded to that emotion with an incredibly fierce performance of the 'Sipi Tao' - the Tongan war dance - the first time the Australians had faced the traditional challenge.

The fans found their voice again during the second half, with their team searching for a way back into the game, and stayed long after the final hooter to serenade their heroes.

And the Tonga supporters showed their respect for the Aussies, signing their anthem as well.

Ultimately, the Kangaroos ran out 34-16 winners, but the Tongans won the second half 6-4.

"This was crazy," reflected Australian fullback James Tedesco, named Man of the Match. "The atmosphere here, with the fans, was awesome."