USA and Tonga conclude their Rugby World Cup campaign with a Pool C clash at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Higashiosaka on Sunday, an opportunity for both nations to bow out on a high.
USA v Tonga, Sunday 13th October, Hanazono Rugby Stadium , KO 07:45 (South African time)
Weather Forecast – Higashiosaka
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
USA remain without a log point after a 47-17 defeat to Argentina on Wednesday. They were given a 20 point start on the handicap against a Los Pumas side who had already fallen out of contention but they were 19-5 down at half time and conceded 7 tries in total whilst scoring 3.
The 17 point haul against Los Pumas was a better points return than USA managed in their opening matches. Their first action ended in a 45-7 defeat to England (19-0 half time) and their only points came at the death.
In their second outing USA lost 33-9 to France. They gave a really good account of themselves for around an hour, going into the break just 12-6 down. However Les Bleus scored 3 tries in the final 14 minutes to win by a more comfortable margin than the overall balance of play had suggested.
Tonga have also lost all 3 of their matches. They pushed France all the way to the final hooter last time out but came up just short in a 23-21 defeat. Tonga conceded the first 17 points of that game but stuck to their task really well although a losing bonus point will be little consolation.
In earlier games Tonga played Argentina at this venue and they went down 28-12. They also started that game slowly, conceding all 28 of those points in the first 27 minutes of the game. Tonga were beaten 35-3 by England in their first outing (18-3 half time), a game they had started as 40 point underdogs.
Although they have yet to win a game at these finals Tonga have been worth supporting on the handicap in all of their matches so far.
USA: 15 Will Hooley, 14 Blaine Scully (c), 13 Bryce Campbell, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Malon Al-Jiboori, 6 Tony Lamborn, 5 Nick Civetta, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Eric Fry
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Olive Kilifi, 18 Paul Mullen, 19 Ben Landry, 20 Hanco Germishuys, 21 Ben Pinkelman, 22 Nate Augspurger, 23 Mike Te’o
Tonga: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 ‘Atieli Pakalani, 13 Malietoa Hingano, 12 Siale Piutau (c), 11 Viliami Lolohea, 10 James Faiva, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Zane Kapeli, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Halaleva Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi
Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Vunipola Fifita, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Dan Faleafa, 20 Nasi Manu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Latiume Fosita, 23 David Halaifonua
Head to Head
The teams have met 9 times with USA winning 1 to Tonga's 8.
USA won the very first head to head 30-10 in San Francisco back in 1999
The only RWC meeting came in France in 2007 and Tonga won 25-15
The most recent head to head came in San Sebastian in November 2016 and Tonga won 20-17
Early Betting - Handicap
USA +5.5 points at 9/10
Tonga -5.5 points at 9/10
Quotes are an average of what was on offer from a selection of bookmakers at the time of writing and are subject to change.
Both Tonga and the USA will have targeted this game and I expected the betting to be a little bit closer to a choice game. The USA have impressed me with their structure against some of the bigger teams and although Tonga gave France a scare I am going to have a small interest on the USA claiming a win at just over 18/10.
Bet: 2 units USA win at 37/20 at Sportingbet