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USA MNT Head Coach Mike Tolkin has a task on his hands as the Eagles look ahead to face the Sea Eagles of Tonga in Colwyn Bay on Saturday.
Tonga pushed Italy hard, and in addition, they are simply getting to be a better team.
This isn't terrific news, given that since the USA beat Tonga 30-10 in 1999, they have lost to the Sea Eagles 29-6 in 2000, 25-15 in the 2007 World Cup, and, most recently, 44-13 in the Churchill Cup.
While the USA scrum showed significant improvement in last Friday's win over Russia, Tonga, too, has improved in that area.
"Their scrum has been better than it's been in a while," said Tolkin. ""They are a much more switched on team than the past."
The USA will have to be switched on, too. That is something they were not last time they played Tonga, and their inability to control the ball and also their inability to break the gain line caused them problems. Already the American team has shown it can break the gain line, and protect possession.
Questions remain about the USA lineup. Taku Ngwenya has not joined the camp, and Tolkin is keeping mum on whether he will make any changes.
"This game is one we want to try to win, and in preparing to do so, we have
continued to add and build on what we have been doing so far," said the
coach. And when asked what extra the players have been working on, Tolkin
was as direct as can be: "We have been working on tackling Tongans."
Right, they'll need to do that, too.