Tonga bounce back against US
Tonga bounced back from a surprise defeat to Canada with an 18-9 triumph over the United States in a Pacific Nations Cup match.
Tonga bounced back from a surprise defeat to Canada with an 18-9 triumph over the United States in a Pacific Nations Cup match in Carson, California.
Tonga, who fell 27-36 in Ontario last Saturday to unbeaten Canada, were without three players - suspended by the International Rugby Board: full-back David Halaifonua, prop Eddie 'Aholelei and centre Siale Piutau.
Even in their absence, the United States couldn't control a physical Tonga side lifted by two tries from Sione Piukala.
Chris Wyles gave the hosts their first lead of 2013 with a penalty kick in the fourth minute - the first of his three penalties that accounted for all of the United States' points.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Tonga's Viliami Hakalo's penalty three minutes later knotted the score.
In the 15th, Tonga made a nice switch to Piukala who had no trouble dotting down between the sticks for the first try of the match, with Hakalo kicking the conversion to give the visitors a 10-3 lead.
Toby L'Estrange caught the Tongan defence off guard in the 18th minute, getting the ball to Andrew Suniula who drew a penalty for Wyles to convert and cut the deficit to 6-10.
The US pulled closer in the 31st after Tonga's captain Nili Latu made a high tackle on Brian Doyle and received a yellow card, with Wyles kicking the penalty to make the score 9-10.
The French connection of Takudzwa Ngwenya and Scott LaValla, who each play in France's Top 14 with Biarritz and Stade Francais, respectively, almost created the Eagles' first try of 2013 before the end of the half, but Ngwenya's pass was a bit too high for LaValla to reach.
Two minutes into the second half, however, the Eagles were dealt a blow when Piukala added his second try.
Latu converted another penalty to stretch Tonga's lead to 9-18, and an escalating array of mistakes prevented the United States from cutting into the margin.
Pacific Nations Cup action now switches back to Japan, where the Japanese host Canada and Fiji play the United States on Wednesday.
Japan then play the United States on Sunday, when Tonga take on Fiji.
Canada currently top the table with three wins from three matches.
United States Eagles:
Pens: Wyles 3
Tries: Piukala 2
Pens: Hakalo, Latu
Yellow card: Nili Latu (Tonga, 31 - foul play, high tackle)
United States Eagles: 15 Chris Wyles, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 James Paterson, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 10 Toby L'Estrange, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Todd Clever (captain), 7 Peter Dahl, 6 Scott LaValla, 5 Louis Stanfill, 4 Brian Doyle, 3 Eric Fry, 2 Chris Biller, 1 Shawn Pittman.
Replacements: 16 Zach Fenoglio, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Phil Thiel, 19 Graham Harriman, 20 John Quill, 21 Robbie Shaw, 22 Adam Siddall, 23 Blaine Scully.
Tonga: 15 Viliami Hakalo, 14 Viliame Iongi, 13 Fraser Anderson, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Will Helu, 10 Taniela Moa, 9 Thomas Palu, 8 Paula Kaho, 7 Nili Latu (captain), 6 Hale T Pole, 5 Lua Lokotui, 4 Josh Afu, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Kama Sakalia.
Replacements: 16 Ilaisia Ma'asi, 17 Peni Fakalelu, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Emosi Kauhenga, 0 Daniel Faleafa, 21 Siale Fahiua, 22 Samisoni Pone, 23 Soni Masima.
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Bryan Arciero (Canada), David Smortchevsky (Canada)