Vainikolo double puts Tonga past USA

Date published: July 30 2015

Tonga did all they could to make the Pacific Nations Cup Final following a 33-19 victory over the USA in Toronto.

The win moves Tonga onto eight points, putting them into the final if Canada can topple Samoa and Japan defeat Fiji.

As for the USA, head coach Mike Tolkin will be concerned at how his side failed to produce with too many errors both in terms of skill and discipline until the closing stages.

Fetu'u Vainikolo's incredible solo try kickstarted the match, the winger collecting a cross-field kick and then proving unstoppable for some weak USA tackling as he broke through four on his way to the line.

Folau Niua took on the kicking duties with regular captain Chris Wyles being rested and added a first penalty to put the USA on the scoresheet, before Kurt Morath replied to make it 10-3 to Tonga with a strike of his own.

Morath's second penalty gave Tonga a comfortable lead with the fly-half missing and converting from his next two attempts as Tonga took a 13-point advantage into half-time.

Good pressure from the USA at the start of the second half forced Tonga into conceding a penalty at the breakdown, with Niua converting to cut the deficit to 16-6.

Tonga through struck with a second try – Jack Ram breaking through a number of tackles before offloading on his inside to Telusa Veainu for a simple score.

Morath continued to punish the USA for their indiscipline with a fourth penalty after the Eagles failed to roll away, but Niua's third penalty made the score 26-9 to Tonga with a quarter remaining.

Vanikolo crossed for a second try on 64 minutes as Tonga showed great handling to capitalise on their overlap and add to their tally, raising the possibility of a bonus point win.

USA did manage a consolation try through Andrew Duratalo after he crashed over from close range to make it 33-14 and they did however finish as the stronger side in the closing stages, denying Tonga the chance to score a valuable fourth try and instead securing a second try as Duratalo struck again.

Tonga, however, were the deserving winners – proving too powerful and taking their chances impressively well.

The scorers:

For USA:

Tries: Duratalo 2

Pens: Niua 3

For Tonga:

Tries: Vainikolo 2, Veainu

Cons: Morath 3

Pens: Morath 4

USA: 15 Troy Hall, 14 Brett Thompson, 13 Folau Niua, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Zack Test, 10 Toby L'Estrange, 9 Shalom Suniula, 8 Al McFarland, 7 Scott LaValla, 6 Cameron Dolan, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Louis Stanfill, 3 Chris Baumann, 2 Phil Thiel (c), 1 Matekitonga Moeakiola.
Replacements: 16 Zach Fenoglio, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Eric Fry, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Andrew Durutalo, 21 Mike Petri, 22 Thretton Palamo, 23 Tim Stanfill.

Tonga: 15 'Otulea Katoa, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Sione Puikala, 12 'Alipate Fatafehi, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Viliami Fihaki, 7 Jack Ram, 6 Steve Mafi (c), 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Uili Kolo'ofa'i, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Sosefo Sakalia, 17 Alisona Taumalolo, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Tukulua Lokotui, 20 Hale T Pole, 21 Sosefo Ma'ake, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 Vungakoto Lilo.