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.