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The Eagles got off to a shaky start against Tonga, and Marco Barnard had a particularly suspect opening few minutes, as he bounced a poor pass to Matt Hawkins in attack that led to a turnover and committed a silly penalty shortly thereafter. However, Tonga had an even worse start, committing numerous penalties at the breakdown and handling errors.
Tonga had possession deep in their own territory when Zach Test counterrucked effectively, getting the pill back in USA’s hands. A phase later, he’d pick up from the base of a ruck and dot down the first Eagle try. The conversion was missed.
Tonga came back on the offensive, with Sione Vaiomounga making an elusive run and offloading to Etueni Siua, who was able to scoot past an overpursuing Justin Boyd for the rebuttal score. Etimoni Paea hit the conversion, putting Tonga up 7-5.
Lack of discipline continued to plague Tonga, as after corraling Zach Test on USA’s next possession, a Tongan player was pinged for not releasing. Colin Hawley quick tapped, despite Tonga’s scrumhalf trying to slow down the toe through, and raced 50-plus meters for the go-ahead score, which was unconverted, giving the Eagles a 10-7 halftime advantage.
Barnard and Boyd, both of whom didn’t have a great first half, combined on a nice play to exted the Eagle lead just after intermission. Tonga had the ball but were scrambling, and Boyd made a nice one-on-one tackle that forced a mishandle, which Barnard scooped up and carried in for a try. Shalom Suniula converted, making it 17-7 in USA’s favor.
Once the Eagles regained possession deep in their own end, Miles Craigwell, who subbed on for Boyd, carried the ball into touch before crossing the midway line. Tonga took a quick lineout in for a rebuttal try, pulling to within two at 17-12.
On the ensuing possession, Suniula penetrated the Tongan defense with a nifty scamper and offloaded inside to a streaking Paul Emerick, who also came on as a second-half replacement. Emerick touched down his 32nd World Series try, converted by Suniula, to give the Eagles the 24-12 win.
After falling earlier in the day to Fiji and Australia, USA moves to the Bowl Quarterfinal, where they’ll face Japan for the third time in two tournaments. Japan knocked the Eagles out of Bowl contention last week in Hong Kong after the Eagles beat them in pool play.
Tries: Hawley, Emerick, Barnard, Test
Cons: S. Suniula (2)