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USA Stops Canada 19-12 in Pacific Rim Opener

(San Francisco, CA) 11 May -- Skaking off severe leg cramps, halfback Andre Bachelet booted two second-half penalty goals to pace the United States to a 19-12 victory over visiting Canada in the two teams' opening Pacific Rim Rugby Championship match.

The Eagles took a 13-0 lead after sixteen minutes, courtesy of a drop goal and a penalty goal from flyhalf Matt Alexander and a snappy try by wing Vaea Anitoni, converted by Alexander. But Canadian wing Winston Stanley made a try-saving tackle on center Ray Green just yards from the line, and flyhalf Bob Ross tallied three consecutive penalty goals to make the halftime count 13-9.

A fourth Ross penalty kick four minutes into the second half pulled the Maple Leafs to within a point of the lead, but the US defense shut out the opposition the rest of the way. Taking over placekicking duties from Alexander, Bachelet slotted penalty goals at 51 and 57 minutes. Canada looked sure to score at the hour mark, but fullback Scott Stewart knocked on while crossing the tryline.

With the win, the US goes to 1-0 and tie for first place in the Pacific Rim league, while Canada falls to 0-1 and tie for third. The two teams will meet again in a week's time in Vancouver, before each travels overseas to meet the Pacific Rim's other two competitors, Japan and Hong Kong.

About 2750 fans gathered at Balboa ParkÕs Boxer Stadium to watch the scrappy contest, which doubled as the 20th "Can-Am" match, the annual rivalry game between the two North American teams. After a 15-14 win last year in Toronto, the US has now captured two straight from the Maple Leafs.

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