October 9, 2019 / 9:02 AM / 5 days ago

U.S. must shore up defence to have any chance vs Tonga, says coach

KUMAGAYA, Japan (Reuters) - Coach Gary Gold said his team will need to tighten up their defence considerably if the United States are to have any chance of leaving the World Cup with a rare win after they were walloped 47-17 by Argentina on Wednesday.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - U.S.Captain's Run - Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Kumagaya, Japan, October 8, 2019. U.S. head coach Gary Gold before captain’s run. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Despite a decent start, when they should have led, the Americans were too often disorganised as the Pumas ran in seven tries - more than half of them dotted down by players not troubled by the inconvenience of a tackle - in the Pool C encounter.

Gold questioned the accuracy of the official statistics that listed his team as missing 46 tackles - following the 50 they missed in defeat against England earlier in the tournament - but accepted it was an issue.

“Yep, we missed some tackles but there’s probably a source to that, we were too often out of position and that led to some holes so we will work on that,” he told a news conference.

“Defence is a work-on - it always is - but probably more important is looking after the ball better ourselves.

“We said before the game that we had to take our opportunities and we didn’t take them in the first 20 minutes when we were really good today.

“We have had strong ends to the first half and strong ends to the second but, in between, we lost our way and they are a very good team and they punished us.”

The U.S. complete their campaign against Tonga, when they will be desperate to claim what would be only their fourth World Cup win from 29 attempts, and Gold says the experience in Japan so far has put them in a great position to try to achieve that.

“Tonga are a good team, but we want to go out and try and finish on a high,” he said

“Each time we’ve played these bigger teams we get more confident. It comes with more time together and more games played together – we’ve improved game on game for that reason.

“We’ve also learned the lesson that mistakes are punished badly against the better teams and that was there today.

“But scoring tries at the end of each half showed what we are about. I was very proud of the fight and tenacity we showed - right to the 82nd minute.”

The U.S., who have yet to register even a bonus point from their three games, play Tonga on Sunday, with the islanders also seeking a first victory.

Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Tony Lawrence

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