The Rugby Channel

Eagles Second Half Attack Falls Short Against Tonga

November 19, 2017

Eagles Second Half Attack Falls Short Against Tonga

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Doug Coil

The USA Rugby Men’s Eagles traveled to San Sebastián, Spain and concluded their November Tour Saturday, Nov. 19, with a against narrow 20-17 loss to Tonga at the Estastio Anoeta. The match was broadcast live on The Rugby Channel.

Coach John Mitchell side against Tonga was captained by with Blaine Scully,and included eight European  professionals. The Eagles went into halftime losing 17-10 to Tonga and played attacking rugby during the second half with Tonga holding on for a narrow win.

The Eagles held their own in the scrums, James Hilterbrand served good flat ball in the lineouts and the Eagles Sevens players produced exciting back play. Newly capped Marcel Brache also impressed. Knockons at key times continued to thwart Eagles attacks, but there are many positives to take away from the match. Hopefully improvement will continue as the USA turns to the Americas Rugby Championship in February.

Match Recap

Tonga took the kickoff and attacked deep into USA territory with Blaine Scully and Thretton Palamo saving a try, as they brought the attacker into touch. After Nate Augspurger cleared, Tonga again attacked inside the Eagles 22 meters. The ball from a scrum to Tonga was picked up by Tevita Koloamatangi at 8 man and spun to fullback Telusa Veaninu for a try. Sonatane Takulula converted and Tonga took a 7-0 lead at nine minutes.

The USA added their own points a few minutes later as the Eagles secured a lineout and mauled their way to within five meters of the line. A penalty by Tonga allowed Will Holder to slot a penalty kick to narrow the lead to 7-3.

After some back and forth play, Tonga was able to increase their lead from a Fetu’u Vainikolo try, which was also converted by Takulula at 22 minutes for a 14-3 lead.

It looked like Tonga would add another try by Siale Piutau after the breakdown, but the referee went to the TMO.  Dan Faleafa was deemed to horsecollar Chris Baumann on the clearout and the try was not awarded.

The USA went on the attack, but dropped passes were problematic ealy for the Eagles. Soon after Andrew Durutalo poached the ball and quick hands by Holder and Hilterbrand had the ball out wide. The Eagles were able to attack inside Tonga territory as the time in the first half was dwindling, but a Tonga player ahead of the defense stole the ball and the referee said play on.

Tonga was soon penalized at the breakdown and after a lineout won by the Eagles, Augspurger offloaded to Martin Iosefo for a try. Will Holder added the conversion and it appeared that the half would end at 14-10 in favor of Tonga.

Tonga took the restart and an infraction by Nick Civetta lead to a Takulua penalty kick for a 17-10 lead at halftime.

The Eagles used a poach from Durutalo to attack early in the second half as they went through multiple phases before a knockon again stymied their attack.

The Eagles would not be denied when Madison Hughes took a balll prior to going into touch and grubbed, picked and ran for territory. Blaine Scully was able to attack to within 5 meters and that was enough for Joe Taufete’e to barge in for the try. After the Holder conversion the score was knotted at 17 all.

Would the Eagles take the lead? It appeared that they did when Madison Hughes went over for an apparent try after a Marcel Brache offload. The referee called for a TMO and the try was nullified on an obstruction by Taufete’e.

After a penalty by Tony Lamborn, who had a tremendous match for the Eagles, Sonatane Takulua slotted a kick through the uprights for a 20-17 lead.

With 17 minutes still to play, the attacks would continue. Tonga reached the Eagles 22 meters and another TMO ruled in favor of the Eagles and Hughes cleared.

Soon after the Eagles won a lineout and the ball was spun wide and Leuta went down the wing. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Tonga’s Sila Puafisi was sent to the bin and the Eagles would play the rest of the match up a man.

Tonga was able to take time off the clock from a set plays, a scrum and and then lineout turned into a maul.

The USA has one final attack after the 80 minutes had passed on a turnover from a Tonga maul. Iosefo sped ahead and offloaded to Hughes, but the ensuing pass was intercepted by Tonga and then kicked into touch to end this thrilling match.

The Eagles had a great deal of the second half attacks and should take away many positives in their 20-17 loss.

Men’s Eagles v. Tonga

1. Joe Taufete’e 2. James Hilterbrand 3. Chris Baumann 4. Cameron Dolan 5. Nick Civetta 6. Samu Manoa 7. Tony Lamborn 8. Andrew Durutalo 9. Nate Augspurger 10. Will Holder 11. Martin Iosefo 12. Marcel Brache 13. Thretton Palamo 14. Blaine Scully (C) 15. Madison Hughes 16. Pat Blair 17. Angus MacLellan 18. Dino Waldren 19. Al McFarland 20. Langilangi Haupeakui 21. Mike Te’o 22. JP Eloff 23. Bryce Campbell

Tonga  v. USA
1. Tevita Mailau 2. Paula Ngauamo 3. Siua Halanukonuka 4. Steve Mafi 5. Joe Tu’ineau 6. Dan Faleafa 7. Jack Ram 8. Tevita Koloamatangi 9. Sonatane Takulua 10. Kali Hala 11. Fetu’u Vainikolo 12. Latiume Fosita 13. Siale Piutau (C) 14. Nafi Tu’itavake 15. Telusa Veainu 16. Elvis Taione 17. Paea Fa’anunu 18. Sila Puafisi
19. Valentino Mapapalangi 20. Kotoni Ale 21. Tomasi Palu 22. Tevita Taufui 23. David Halaifonua

Men’s Eagles | November Tour
v. Maori All Blacks – L 54-7
v. Romania – L 23-10
v. Tonga – Saturday, Nov. 19 @ Estadio Anoeta – San Sebastián, Spain

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