Tonga blow Eagles away

Date published: November 15 2014

Tonga outscored the USA Eagles five tries to two at Kingsholm in Gloucester to cruise to a 40-12 victory on on Saturday.

Tonga outscored the USA Eagles five tries to two at Kingsholm to cruise to a 40-12 victory on on Saturday.

The Eagles were still in touch at half time as the Islanders only led 14-12 but four unanswered tries after the beak saw Tonga romp home.

The USA scored tries via Tim Stanfill and John Quill in the first period but they had no answer for Tonga’s pace and power after the interval as Viliami Ma’afu, Vungakoto Lilo, David Halaifonua and Nili Latu all touched down to add to Fetu’u Vainikolo’s first half try.

Stanfill recorded his second try in as many matches in the fourth minute. Fly-half Shalom Suniula slipped a pass to full back Folau Niua, who dummied a pass to the winger to split between the defenders. At Tonga’s 22, Niua perfectly-timed a pass to Stanfill who sped in-goal for the match’s first try.

Tonga drew a penalty inside the Eagles’ half in the eighth minute and the Sea Eagles opted for points. Fly-half Kurt Morath slotted the kick for a 7-3 scoreline.

A cutting Vainikolo gave the wing enough burst to turn the Eagles defenders the wrong way. He scored Tonga’s first try on the opposite side of the pitch. The conversion kick by Morath missed wide, leaving Tonga’s lead at just one point, 8-7.

The Eagles were penalized in another scrum minutes later but held strong along the try line after the lineout. John Cullen committed an infraction in the 20th minute, and Morath extended his side’s lead to 11-7 with the penalty.

The momentum did not favor the Eagles in the following minutes, as Niua missed a penalty kick attempt and captain Scott LaValla was sent to the sin-bin for disrupting a potential scoring play. Morath successfully kicked the penalty.

Down, 14-7, and a player, the Eagles sustained more pressure from their opponents and were saved by a diving grounding in-goal by Mike Petri. Tonga turned over possession in the 31st minute and the Eagles managed to clear and draw a penalty downfield. The Sea Eagles were penalized in a scrum, which gave the men wearing blue their first set possession in minutes. LaValla returned to the pitch to end Tonga’s advantage and the extra man added to the attack. Niua set up a lineout within five metres of Tonga’s try line and John Quill dove over from the ensuing maul for the try.

Niua’s missed penalty kick two minutes into the second half set the tone for most of the final period of play. Though the Eagles held up a maul in-goal in the 46th minute, they conceded a try in the 50th minute after just one offensive phase from Tonga. Ma’afu dotted down for the Sea Eagles, who took a 21-12 lead following the successful conversion.

Two more tries in less than five minutes sucked the air out of the U.S. side at Kingsholm Stadium. Stanfill ran around a defender on the wing to give the Eagles a territorial advantage, but Tonga stole the ball. Stanfill chased down his opposite number before the Tongan fed Vungakoto Lilo in space for the try. Sloppy passing outside the uprights a minute later offered a loose ball to Halaifonua, who promptly dotted down for a 33-12 lead.

The Eagles, buoyed by the additions of Todd Clever, Thretton Palamo, and Tai Tuisamoa, held their longest spell of possession for nearly 10 minutes, but could not find a way onto the scoreboard. Latu capped the match with a try in the 79th minute to bring the final score to 40-12.

The scorers:

For Tonga:
Tries: Vainikolo, Ma’afu, Lilo, Halaifonua, Latu
Cons: Morath 2, Fosita
Pens: Morath 3

For USA:
Tries: Stanfill, Quill
Con: Niua
Yellow card: LaValla

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Hermani Paea, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Viliami Ma’afu, 7 Nili Latu (c), 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Joe Tu’ineau, 4 Tukulua Lokotui, 3 Paea Fa’anunu, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Tevita Mailau
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Sione Lea, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Lisiate Fa’aoso, 20 Hale T Pole, 21 Taniela Moa, 22 Latiume Fostia, 23 Otulea Katoa

USA: 15 Folau Niua, 14 Tim Maupin, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Tim Stanfill, 10 Shalom Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Matt Trouville, 7 John Quill, 6 Scott Lavalla (c), 5 Greg Peterson, 4 John Cullen, 3 Mate Moeakiola, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Nick Wallace
Replacements: 16 Tom Coolican, 17 Angus MacLellan, 18 Benjamin Tarr, 19 Tai Tuisamoa, 20 Kyle Sumsion, 21 Todd Clever, 22 Thretton Palamo, 23 Ronald McLean

Venue: Kingsholm, Gloucester
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland), Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Television match official: RFU Appointment