USA Rout Japan 74-5
(San Francisco, California) 6 July 1996 -- Exploding for 11 tries in their sixth and final game of the inaugural Pacific Rim Rugby Championship, the USA routed visiting Japan 74-5 today at San Francisco's Balboa Park in front a captivated home crowd of 3,000. League-leading try scorer Vaea Anitoni crossed the line four times, while Matt Alexander contributed 24 points with a try and nine of thirteen place-kicking.
A passionate US team stamped the first twenty minutes with heavy pressure on the visiting Japanese. Finally Bill LeClerc powered over the line for a converted try at the end of the game's first quarter. The spirited Japanese team responded two minutes later, when their first real venture into US territory culminated with a unconverted try by wing Tsutomu Matsuda. Alexander then kicked the only penalty of the game in twenty-seventh minute. The first half closed out with a display of crisp, openfield rugby by both teams. Anitoni ended the sequence by scoring the first of his four tries to increase the Eagles' lead to 17-5.
Similar to last week's game against Hong Kong, the US started the second half as men possessed. Mark Scharrenberg opened the scoring with a converted try in the first minute of play, setting the Eagles on a nine-try spree in the next forty minutes of play, for 57 unanswered points. By game's end, Alexander, Malakai Dabuvuya, Dan Lyle, Maika Sika, LeClerc again, and Anitoni (three more times) had found paydirt.
The pace of the game remained high throughout the entire eighty minutes, as the US players showed their willingness to run the ball and did so effectively. The Japanese team too continued to compete with spirit and tenacity and even attacked from within their own twenty five, but the risky tactic cost them dearly as the US punished even the smallest errors.
For the Eagles, the second row combination of Luke Gross and Alec Parker not only completely dominated lineouts but also ran well and supported the ballcarrier, making themselves a force the Japanese couldn't contain. Returning from injury, flanker Richard Tardits also put his stamp of authority on the game. Yet Vaea Anitoni was easily the man of the match. His total of four tries solidifies his position as leading try scorer in the Pacific Rim championship, with a total of ten tries in six games.
The US ends the Pacific Rim championship in second place with a record of 3-3, with each of the three losses being by less then one try. Speaking after the match, Head Coach Jack Clark said today's game was a "comprehensive victory" and that he was "very proud of the team". Captain Lyle expressed his happiness that following a "bad tour" of Asia the team had returned home with "two convincing wins."