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OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Tonga got its win, captain Siale Piutau got a farewell try on his birthday, and the United States got nothing but a record-equaling 10th straight loss at the Rugby World Cup.
Tonga beat the United States 31-19 on Sunday to avoid finishing last in Pool C. Already eliminated, both teams sought desperately to end their tournaments with a victory and something to build on.
Tonga did it, although it made life tough for itself by throwing away at least five try-scoring chances at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.
Tonga did make four opportunities count with four tries. Center Piutau’s score with just under 20 minutes to go was crucial in giving his team breathing space at 24-12. The United States made it interesting when flanker Tony Lamborn pushed the ball up against the post padding in a late surge and it was 24-19 with just under three minutes to go.
Fullback Telusa Veainu, guilty of messing up at least two tries, sealed Tonga’s first win of this World Cup when he dived on a kick behind the U.S. defense in the last play of the game.
Piutau ended with a try and a win on his 34th birthday and in his last test for Tonga before retiring from international rugby. He was voted player of the match and took the final conversion for good mea
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