There's a sense of excitement in the air with passionate Tongan rugby league fans decking out their homes and cars in bright red ahead of tonight's Mate Ma'a Tonga test against the Kiwis.

But police have warned those attending the match at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland the only clashes should be on the field.

Inspector Matt Srhoj said police had been working with a number of community organisations ahead of the game.

"We know this is an exciting time for league supporters and we encourage people to enjoy the night," said Srhoj.


"We also ask that while people are having a good time that they are also respectful and mindful of others."

The warning comes after violent clashes and numerous arrests during street brawls following matches in the past two years.

Police have warned fans to celebrate respectfully this year following arrests after previous Rugby League World Cup games. Photo / Chris Loufte.
Police have warned fans to celebrate respectfully this year following arrests after previous Rugby League World Cup games. Photo / Chris Loufte.

In 2017, 53 people were arrested after celebrations in the street after the Tonga-Kiwis Rugby League World Cup game turned violent.

Thousands gathered on the streets of Ōtāhuhu after Tonga's win where missiles were thrown at police, fireworks set off and there were numerous violent clashes.

A week later a female police officer was knocked unconscious near a fan zone at Ōtāhuhu town centre after Mate Ma'a Tonga beat Lebanon in a match at Christchurch.

Last year there were 20 arrests and two people seriously injured in street brawls in south Auckland after the Australian Kangaroos and Mate Ma'a Tonga match.

But this year would see road closures to ease congestion and a larger police presence before and after the game in the immediate area.

"The presence of our staff is to ensure everyone's safety on the night," Srhoj said.


There would also be a number of road closures in place around the Ōtāhuhu Town Centre.

"In the past there has been congestion around Ōtāhuhu and we anticipate this will be the case this year," Srhoj said.

Police advise motorists, if possible, to avoid the Ōtāhuhu area. Tonight's game kicks off at 5.40pm in Penrose.

Winter solstice means it's the shortest day of the year, so the sun will be well and truly in bed by that time - with sundown at 5.11pm.

But fans can expect dry and nippy conditions for the big game.

No rain is expected and only a light westerly wind, but the temperature will be around 12C at kick-off, dropping another degree by 8pm.


The weather gods seem to be smiling on fans - just a few hours later a low pressure system spoiler will roll across the North Island, MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris told the Weekend Herald.

"Overnight the rain starts to affect the North Island. The low pressure passing over the North Island will bring rain to most places."

Auckland Civil Defence yesterday tweeted a reminder to residents to prepare for the change in weather by clearing gutters and tying down loose items outside.

But Ferris said the weather system was "nothing too serious".

"It's just going to be westerly winds and a bit of rain. It's not going to be stormy."

And although wet weather was on the way for many on Sunday, sunshine would soon follow, Ferris said.


A big Australian high pressure system would arrive at the start of the working week, and then stick around, bringing settled weather and frosts around the South Island and central and lower parts of the North Island.