With the pitch in Nuku'alofa partially underwater at kick-off, the Tongans edged out to an early 5-0 lead before the USA got on the board with a Wells penalty.
After turning around with a 10-3 lead, the hosts gradually pulled out of the Eagles reach with three second half tries versus one more Wells penalty kick.
USA head coach Duncan Hall expressed disappointment with his team's performance along with disbelief at the extremity of the conditions. "The weather was unbelievably atrocious. We really struggled to hold on to the ball. We did have opportunities, but they played better wet weather football."
The Tongan halfbacks wisely relied on a kick-ahead game, one of the few tactics available given the conditions. "It was very difficult for the backs to operate with any semblance of order," noted Hall whose hopes for a contest of skills were washed away.
The clouds' meager silver lining for the Eagles was that the team came through the match without serious injury and that the second half was an opportunity to introduce loose forward Jason Gillam and scrumhalf Mose Timoteo to international rugby. Young flyhalf Link Wilfley also got a little more test experience.
The Eagles, now 2-2 in the Epson Cup Pacific Rim, return to San Francisco to host Samoa, July 15th.
Final: Tonga 29 United States 6 (halftime: Tonga 10-3)
United States: Kurt Shuman; Roger Grant, Philip Eloff, Alatini Saulala (Juan Grobler), Malakai Delai; Grant Wells (Link Wilfley), Kevin Dalzell (Mose Timoteo); Joe Clayton, Robbie Flynn, John McBride (Ray Lehner), Luke Gross, Philippe Farner, Dave Hodges (captain), Kort Schubert, Olo Fifita (Jason Gillam).
© USA National Rugby Team
Scott Compton, Media Relations
Hudson Rugby Fieldhouse
Berkeley, California 94720 4426
phone 510.643.1971 / fax 510.643.2192