US Downed by Last-Gasp Canadian Try, 24-20

(Vancouver, British Columbia) 18 May 1996 -- Flyhalf Bob Ross, just off the replacements bench, scored and converted a try in injury time to hand the United States a heartbreaking 24-20 loss in the second round of the Pacific Rim Rugby Championship.

Second-half tallies by wing Vaea Anitoni and center Tomasi Takau erased Canada's 10-6 halftime edge and gave the Eagles a 20-10 lead after 65 minutes, but ineffective tactical kicking let the Maple Leafs back into the contest. The hosts pulled to within three following a tap-move try by John Hutchinson at 75 minutes, and scored the winner to spoil a thrilling defensive stand by the visitors.

Recovering from injury, flyhalf Mark Williams collected ten points on four of six goalkicking. Hard-running Takau was the American man of the match, however, always dangerous on attack and rarely tackled by the first defender in his way.

The razor-thin defeat spoiled the Eagles' bid for three consecutive wins over their archrivals. The US won last week's match with Canada in San Francisco 19-12, and triumphed 15-14 in Toronto last September. "I'm not sure some of our newer players have been under that much pressure before," head coach Jack Clarked commented after the exciting finish. "It was a game with a lot of lessons attached."

The loss drops the US into a three-way tie for first place in the Pacific Rim league. The US, Canada, and Hong Kong (33-9 winners over Japan today) are all deadlocked with 1-1 records and five points. (Four points is awarded for a win, and one for a loss by less than seven points.)

After a few weeks off, the US national team will travel to Asia to meet Hong Kong in Hong Kong on June 9, and Japan in Tokyo on June 16.

Contact Kurt Oeler, Media Relations
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