Sharp shooter: Fly half Pierre Hola's accurate goal kicking helped Tonga to a deserved win over the Eagles

MONTPELLIER, 12 September - Tonga have kicked off their IRB Rugby World Cup campaign with a 25-15 victory over USA in the Pool A match at Stade Mosson on Wednesday.

Tonga substitute Viliami Vaki used brute strength to brush off four defenders en route to scoring the match-sealing try with 10 minutes remaining.

The South Pacific Islanders won their opening world cup match for the first time and broke a five-match losing streak at rugby world cups. 

USA were slight favourites following their respectable 28-10 loss to world champions England on the weekend but found themselves trailing 18-8 after 60 minutes against an energetic and fresh Tonga outfit.

Tonga number 8 Finau Maka, who recently revealed he likes to bang his head against a wall for motivation, scored the opening try after just two minutes when he barged his way over the line from a rolling maul.

Tonga held a 13-3 halftime lead but the Eagles clawed their way back through a 48th minute try in the corner to prop Mike MacDonald.

A clever five-pointer to wing Joseph Vaka, off the back of a break from skipper Nili Latu, restored a 10-point advantage for Tonga before USA second row Louis Stanfil charged over in the 67th minute to set up a nail-biting finish.

Tonga held a narrow 18-15 lead when Vaki scored his solo try to virtually seal his team's third-ever RWC victory, despite USA wing Takudzwa Ngwenya threatening to cross in the dying stages.

RNS djp/sek