Spain hosts Eagles, Sea Eagles in November Tour clash

SAN SEBASTIÁN, Spain – The Men’s Eagles conclude their November Tour Saturday, Nov. 19, against Tonga on the neutral ground of Estadio Anoeta.

Blaine Scully, one of eight overseas professionals that has joined the squad in Europe following “The Rugby Weekend Presented by AIG” in Chicago, will captain Head Coach John Mitchell’s side against the Sea Eagles as Todd Clever misses out due to concussion protocol. Saturday’s match will be broadcast live to subscribers on The Rugby Channel from 11 a.m. ET.

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The Eagles conceded just three points in the final 40 minutes in Bucharest last Saturday, but could not overcome Romania’s first-half lead at Stadionul Arcul de Triumf.

“Inaccuracies cost us,” Mitchell said. “We gave them a few too many early possessions and front-50 opportunities early in that first half that got them excited. I think it comes down to us exiting better and not letting the foot off throat when we are building our own pressure with the ball, and we have to deal with the big moments. Two big moments in the game – one before halftime and one 15 minutes into the second half when we had all the momentum – ended up being costly for us. That’s what this level demands.

“To their credit the lads worked hard together and stayed on plan as instructed. They were very calm at halftime and got themselves back in the match. The score line didn’t reflect how dominant we had become in the second half. Our focus this week is about being more accurate and not giving away unforced possession.”

Eric Fry and Titi Lamositele have returned to their professional sides in France and England, respectively, while Newcastle Falcons have allowed Nick Civetta to complete his first Eagles assembly. Civetta will partner Cam Dolan in the Cardiff Blues man’s first appearance of the November Tour in the second row behind props Chris Baumann and Joe Taufete’e and hooker James Hilterbrand.

Samu Manoa provided an energetic spark as a halftime substitute last weekend, and rounds out an all-pro forward pack with No. 8 Andrew Durutalo and flanker Tony Lamborn. Durutalo scored both of the Eagles’ tries in a defeat to Tonga in the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2015, a match that featured four players in Saturday’s match-day squad.

Will Holder receives the nod for his third consecutive start at fly half having tallied two conversion kicks, a penalty goal, and a try against the New Zealand Maori All Blacks and Romania. Nate Augspurger will feed his half-back partner and a dangerous set of backs led by the captain on the wing. Full back Madison Hughes, wing Martin Iosefo, and outside center Thretton Palamo retain their places in the starting XV from last weekend, while Western Force’s Marcel Brache is set to make his U.S. international debut at inside center.

The debut for the Los Angeles-born professional allows Mitchell to rest Indiana University’s Bryce Campbell, who started in the centers for all three matches of the USA Rugby Selects’ Americas Pacific Challenge campaign in October prior to consecutive starting XV roles on the November Tour. Mike Te’o is also available for selection after being held out of the Romania match for a slight injury, with JP Eloff the third back available in the reserves.

Langilangi Haupeakui leads the five reserve forwards that also includes Eagle No. 501 Dino Waldren, as well as Pat Blair in his new role of hooker for the national team.

For the third consecutive year the Eagles will meet Tonga on neutral ground, this time in Spain. The U.S. will be looking for its first defeat of the Pacific Island nation since the inaugural matchup between the two in 1999. Saturday’s match is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. ET, with the live broadcast available to subscribers on The Rugby Channel.

Men’s Eagles | v. Tonga

1. Joe Taufete’e

2. James Hilterbrand

3. Chris Baumann

4. Cameron Dolan

5. Nick Civetta

6. Samu Manoa

7. Tony Lamborn

8. Andrew Durutalo

9. Nate Augspurger

10. Will Holder

11. Martin Iosefo

12. Marcel Brache

13. Thretton Palamo

14. Blaine Scully (C)

15. Madison Hughes

Men’s Eagles | Reserves

16. Pat Blair

17. Angus MacLellan

18. Dino Waldren

19. Al McFarland

20. Langilangi Haupeakui

21. Mike Te’o

22. JP Eloff

23. Bryce Campbell

Tonga | v. USA

1. Tevita Mailau

2. Paula Ngauamo

3. Siua Halanukonuka

4. Steve Mafi

5. Joe Tu’ineau

6. Dan Faleafa

7. Jack Ram

8. Tevita Koloamatangi

9. Sonatane Takulua

10. Kali Hala

11. Fetu’u Vainikolo

12. Latiume Fosita

13. Siale Piutau (C)

14. Nafi Tu’itavake

15. Telusa Veainu

Tonga | Reserves

16. Elvis Taione

17. Paea Fa’anunu

18. Sila Puafisi

19. Valentino Mapapalangi

20. Kotoni Ale

21. Tomasi Palu

22. Tevita Taufui

23. David Halaifonua

Men’s Eagles | November Tour

v. Maori All Blacks – L 54-7

v. Romania – L 23-10

v. Tonga – Saturday, Nov. 19 @ Estadio Anoeta – San Sebastián, Spain