USA vs Tonga Rugby : USA coach Gary Gold has made just three changes to the starting XV that ran out against the Pumas. Tonga captain Siale Piutau, who turns 34 on Sunday, has announced this will be his last international game, as has flanker Sione Kalamafoni.
The U.S.A. hopes to end its Rugby World Cup on a high when it takes on Tonga in the final game of Pool C on Sunday.
The Eagles have so far lost each of their three games, losing 45-7 to England in their opening match and falling 33-9 to France in their second game. On Wednesday, the Americans racked up a third straight defeat as they were hammered 47-17 by Argentina.
Where & when to watch USA vs Tonga:
USA vs Tonga kicks off at 6.45am BST (2.45pm Japan Standard Time) on Sunday 13 October. ITV will be broadcasting the match. Alternatively, you can live stream it via the ITV Hub on your laptop, smartphone or tablet.
The defeat ended the U.S.’ already slim hopes of finishing third ahead of Los Pumas and earning automatic qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which has been clinched by Argentina instead.
More worryingly for the Americans, it leaves them staring at a second consecutive World Cup without a win for the first time since they failed to win a single game in 1991 and 1999—the Eagles did not qualify in 1995.
Eagles fullback Will Hooley admitted finishing the tournament without a win would be a major step back for the team.
“For us, not winning a game here at the World Cup, we’ll see as a huge negative,” the 25-year-old said in his press conference on Friday.
“We’ve got to dust ourselves down, recognize where we went wrong and be better for Sunday.
“We deserve to have a big performance, hopefully with that we can get a result.”
Hooley suffered a concussion against England and missed the game against France, but looked very sharp as he came off the bench against Argentina.
His cameo was rewarded with a starting spot on Sunday and the fullback is one of just three changes U.S. coach Gary Gold has made ahead of the game against Tonga, despite a four-day turnaround.
Along with Hooley, Nick Civetta reclaims his spot in the second row, while openside flanker Malon Al-Jiboori makes his first appearance of the tournament.
Tonga, which is 15th in the world—two spots below the Eagles—is also looking for its first win at this World Cup. The Pacific Islanders lost 35-3 to England and 28-12 against Argentina but earned a losing bonus points against France, giving Les Bleus a major scare as they lost 23-21.
USA: Will Hooley; Blaine Scully (capt), Bryce Campbell, Paul Lasike, Marcel Brache; AJ MacGinty, Ruben de Haas; Eric Fry, Joe Taufete’e, Titi Lamositele, Greg Peterson, Nick Civetta, Tony Lamborn, Malon Al-Jiboori, Cam Dolan.
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: Telusa Veainu; ‘Atieli Pakalani, Malietoa Hingano, Siale Piutau (capt), Viliami Lolohea; James Faiva, Sonatane Takulua; Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Halanukonuka, Sam Lousi, Halaleva Fifita, Sione Kalamafoni, Zane Kapeli, Maama Vaipulu.
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.