Rugby-World-U.S. refuse to blame schedule for loss
MONTPELLIER, Sept 12 |
MONTPELLIER, Sept 12 (Reuters) - United States coach Peter Thorburn refused to blame the World Cup schedule for his team's 25-15 loss to Tonga on Wednesday.
Thorburn said his team had begun to tire against the physical South Pacific islanders after playing their second game in five days but said it was America's mistakes rather than fatigue that proved decisive.
"We had the right to change players if we wanted to but the team we put on against England was what we believed was the best team and the same thing happened today," Thorburn told a news conference.
"It's a fact of life, you just have to live with it.
"Our main problem is that we made such a bad start, we were down 10-0 after five minutes and what happens with sides like Tonga when you give them a carrot it lifts their spirit really quickly.
"They got their tails up and they play on adrenalin for quite a while."
U.S. captain Mike Hercus said the Americans went into the game with the tactics of trying to tire out the big Tongan forwards but could not control the ball well enough to carry out their plan.
"We knew that the best way to tire out their forwards who we thought were vulnerable to running around on a hot day was to drain them on the side of the rucks, driving mauls," Hercus said.
"I think that worked well, we certainly made a lot of half breaks so I thought the tactics were right but we just lacked the execution."
Tonga only qualified for the tournament by winning one of the two repechage places and their victory was just their third in the World Cup, and first since 1999.
"It's a magical moment for us to win our first game," Tonga coach Quddus Fielea said.
"This is our first game and there was a lot of pressure on my boys. To play at this level we need to play more together.
"From now on we will develop into a much stronger team but this is a good stepping stone for us to move into our next few games."
Tonga's next Pool A match is against their South Pacific neighbours Samoa in Montpellier on Sunday and skipper Nili Latu said beating the Americans had given his side the confidence to upset their more fancied rivals.
"For us to win today was a great achievement," Latu said.
"One of our goals was to win our first game so now there is no pressure on us.
"The pressure is on Samoa because they haven't had a win yet. We've still got a lot left in the tank."
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