Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Tonga and US both expect to win in clash of the Eagles


Wins are rare for Tonga at the Rugby World Cup but the Pacific Islanders sense a victory in the offing against the US in their Pool A match today.

The Tongans are ranked one spot higher than the Eagles at 14 and make their first tournament appearance, while the US are backing up after their encouraging 28-10 defeat to holders England in Lens on Saturday.

The Ikale Tahi (Sea Eagles), who have a large proportion of European-based players in their squad, are chasing their third win at the World Cup after downing Ivory Coast 29-11 in 1995 and Italy 28-25 in 1999.

Their physicality is their forte and they fancy their chances of rattling the Americans with what they believe is the strongest squad they have ever assembled.

"This is the best team we've ever had. It is the first time we have all the players available for the World Cup," coach Quddus Fielea said.

It will be a special occasion for the US Eagles' Tongan-born prop Matekitonga Moeakiola, playing against his homeland.

The US have named an unchanged team for the game although they may have to make a change if center Paul Emerick is punished for a spear tackle on England's Olly Barkley on Saturday.

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