USA Aims to Recover Share of Pacific Rim Lead

(Hong Kong) 8 June 1996 -- With a share of first place at stake, captain Andre Bachelet leads a youthful United States team against Hong Kong tomorrow in a Pacific Rim match at Hong Kong Stadium. Each side presently counts five points in the league standings, while front-running Canada has nine. Four points are awarded for a win.

Twenty-two-year-old Alec Parker makes his international debut at lock, while super sub Jason Walker earns his first start at openside flanker in place of the injured Richard Tardits. Featuring backrowers Dan Lyle and Rob Lumkong and wing Vaea Anitoni, the rest of the US XV is little changed from the combinations that split two games with Canada in May.

The adjustments since Vancouver: Joe Rissone and Ray Lehner pair with Tom Billups up front, while Matt Alexander resumes at flyhalf and Mark Williams returns to fullback. Maika Sika is on the replacements bench, while Gerry McDonald was unavailable for the tour.

With addition of Parker, the Eagles now have five players who are 25 or younger in the lineup. Five more are 26, making this one of the youngest American groups ever.

Hong Kong's lineup was yet unavailable. In their last match, the Dragons pushed visiting Canada to the limit in an 18-12 loss on June 1. Played in very hot and steamy weather, the match was tryless. But Hong Kong's defense has been stingy since conceding three tries to Japan in their Pacific Rim opener in Tokyo.

The Eagles arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday, June 4, and began two-a-day practices the next morning. Despite 90-degree weather and 90-percent humidity, "We've settled in nicely to Hong Kong," coach Jack Clark related on Friday. "The boys have dealt with the conditions very well, and training has been enthusiastic. We're ready for a hard rugby game."

On Friday afternoon the squad took time off to visit the USS Carl Vinson and its massive complement, docked in the British colony before heading to the Persian Gulf. Six thousand sailors crew the Enterprise, and thousands more serve aboard the two battleships, two cruisers, and four frigates that are also part of the fleet.

Contact Kurt Oeler, Media Relations
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