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Tonga won’t leave the 2019 Rugby World Cup without a win, recording a 12-point victory over the USA in their final pools game.
These teams have a solitary match point between them, so they’ll be out to register their first wins of the campaign, while avoiding finishing last in their pool. It’s USA versus Tonga, in the final game of Pool C. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 4:45pm AEDT.
It was labelled the ‘Pool of Death’ at the RWC draw, with three of the best countries fighting it out, in France, England and Argentina. USA and Tonga are the whipping boys of this group, and neither side has won a game, with just one losing bonus point to show for it.
Tonga are coming off a narrow loss to France, 23-21. They were only marginally beaten, and they’ll take a lot of confidence out of that game, while still being disappointed about losing it.
The USA also put up a show against France, but, as has been the story for much of the World Cup, the minnows fell away in the second half.
In team news for this one, despite a minimal turnaround time, USA have made just three changes. Will Hooley comes into the starting team, where he will run out at 15, after appearing off the bench against Argentina. Malon Al-Jiboori will play openside and Nick Civetta is in the second row.
For the Ikale Tahi, Siua Halanukonuka will start at prop, bolstering an already loaded forward pack. There are also changes on the wings. Viliami Lolohea comes in at 11, and Atieli will wear 14. The latter knocks out Cooper Vuna, who has been dropped altogether.
Charles Piutau will break the Tongan record for most RWC appearances, with 12, on the date of his 34th birthday. Flanker Sione Kalamafoni, will also play his 12th World Cup game.
I’m expecting a close game, Tonga probably have the goods up front, but the USA have a strong halves pairing with AJ MacGinty, and a good backline.
It just depends how the match pans out. If it’s forward-dominated, the Ikali Tahi are favourites. If not, you’d likely back the USA.
USA by 9.
Join The Roar for the live scores and a blog of the game, which starts at 4:45pm (AEDT).
Time: 4:45pm (AEDT)
Venue: Hanazono Rugby Stadium
Odds: USA $2.60, Tonga $1.50
Referee: Nigel Owens
Eric Fry, Joe Taufete’e, Titi Lamositele, Greg Peterson, Nick Civetta, Tony Lamborn, Malon Al-Jiboori, Cam Dolan, Ruben de Haas, AJ MacGinty, Marcel Brache, Paul Lasike, Bryce Campbell, Blaine Scully (c),Will Hooley.
Reserves: James Hilterbrand, Olive Kilifi, Paul Mullen, Ben Landry, Hanco Germishuys, Ben Pinkelman, Nate Augspurger, Mike Te’o.
Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Halanukonuka, Sam Lousi, Halaleva Fifita, Sione Kalamafoni, Zane Kapeli, Maama Vaipulu, Sonatane Takulua, James Faiva, Viliami Lolohea, Siale Piutau (c), Malietoa Hingano, Atieli Pakalani, Telusa Veainu.
Reserves: Siua Maile, Vunipola Fifita, Ma’afu Fia, Dan Faleafa, Nasi Manu, Leon Fukofuka, Latiume Fosita, David Halaifonua