Planet Rugby

Preview: Tonga v USA

16th November 2012 08:02

Share:

tonga usa andrew suniula

Contained: Andrew Suniula

Tonga will arrive in Wales to face the USA on the back of a narrow defeat against Italy last weekend in Rome.

Fly-half Fangatapu 'Apikotoa was on form with the boot and two tries from prop Sona Taumalolo and winger Fetu'u Vainikolo kept Tonga in the match right until the death, giving the Azzurri a late scare and highlighting the talent available in the Tongan squad.

Saturday's loss was followed up with another disappointing defeat, this time to a much-rotated side at the hands of Newcastle on Tuesday night, although they rounded off a 24-13 defeat with a wonderful backline score from Will Helu, an indication of the flair the Islanders possess.

The starters are all set to return against the USA this weekend, and a quick browse through the names available in their side highlights the talent available.

Up front they have a triumvirate of quality props in Taumalolo, Soane Tonga'uhia and Halani Aulika - great operators who can dictate a fixture through their technique and power.

The talent doesn't stop though with the front three. Leicester's Steve Mafi is an ever-present force at blindside flanker, Viliami Ma'afu a bulldozer at number eight. Captain Taniela Moa is an immediate stand-out at scrum-half and his control will be essential to a Tongan victory. In the back three, Connacht's Vainikolo and full-back Vungakoto Lilo offer a serious try-scoring threat.

As for the USA, they went into last week's clash against Russia as favourites given their recent victory in the Rugby World Cup and produced some thrilling rugby, running in six tries including two for Leeds scrum-half Robbie Shaw.

Shaw's excellent distribution and control from the number nine shirt resulted in an excellent attacking performance, creating multiple opportunities and at one point stretching the lead to 33-9. Some sloppy defence let Russia back into the match towards the end but the damage was done, with the Eagles impressing.

Packed with international experience in Paul Emerick, captain Todd Clever and Shawn Pittman, the USA have a talented enough squad to trouble Tonga. Losing Chris Wyles however is a blow, given that the Saracen kicked five conversion and scored a try of his own last weekend. The key will come down to their organisation at the set-piece and in defence.

Tonga will be a significant step up and the USA have not recorded a victory over the islanders since their inaugural clash in 1999.

When both sides met last year at Esher, Tonga ran out 44-13 winners. After their strong showing last week in Italy, they will go into this match as narrow favourites.

Prediction: Tonga by 5

Tonga: tbc

USA: 15 Zachary Pangelinan, 14 Cornelius Dirksen, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Luke Hume, 10 Toby L'Estrange, 9 Robbie Shaw, 8 Todd Clever (capt), 7 John Quill, 6 Scott LaValla, 5 Louis Stanfill, 4 Brian Doyle, 3 Eric Fry, 2 Chris Biller, 1 Shawn Pittman.
Replacements: 16 Derek Asbun, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Zachary Fenoglio, 19 Inaki Basauri, 20 Peter Dahl, 21 Mike Petri, 22 Rolan Suniula, 23 Gearoid McDonald.

Date: Saturday, November 17
Kick-off: 18:00Venue: Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, Wales
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Tim Hayes (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00