USA Blitzes Hong Kong 42-23
(San Francisco, California) 29 June 1996 -- League-leading try scorer Vaea Anitoni tallied twice and Matt Alexander totaled 22 points with a try and seven of ten placekicking as the United States outclassed visiting Hong Kong 42-23 in a Pacific Rim match at San Francisco's Balboa Park.
Capitalizing on poor fielding, Anitoni staked the Eagles to a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the contest, but Hong Kong used a stiff wind to pull in front 13-10 by halftime. Substitute flanker Michael Rarere scored on a scrum move, while Rick Muick hit the conversion plus two field goals. Alexander made good on one of two penalty goal chances for the US.
Anitoni struck again two minutes after intermission, inserting into the midfield to score untouched. The play ignited the Eagles, who goaled twice more in the next seven minutes on their way to a four-try, 32-point second half. First substitute wing Malakai Dabuvuya and then prop Bill LeClerc found the endzone as the hosts took a commanding 31-13 lead, delighting the crowd of 2200. A 52d-minute try by Dragon center Warren Warner and another Muick penalty goal narrowed the margin to eight, but Alexander replied with two penalty kicks before sneaking around the blindside to collect a try of his own and close out the scoring.
Played at a fast pace, the exciting, seven-try contest nicely displayed the Eagles' athleticism as well as Hong Kong's intention to keep play alive. New caps LeClerc and openside flanker Jared Hopkins did well for the US, but blindside flanker and captain Dan Lyle was easily the man of the match. Lyle, once a collegiate All-American in football, showed himself a force both at the lineout and around the field.
The US win ends a string of three narrow losses and vaults them into the second place in the Pacific Rim standings, two points behnd league-leading Canada. Hong Kong, who share the Eagles' 2-3 record, fall to third. "Hong Kong has recruited an awfully good rugby team and it's not an insignificant win for us," US coach Jack Clark commented after the match.