Canada Downs US 23-18 in Pan Am Match
(Hamilton, Canada) 18 September 1996 -- Wing Courtney Smith's 73d-minute try lifted host Canada to a hard-fought 23-18 win over the United States in the second leg of the Pan American Championship. Smith's score, his second of the game, spoiled a fine night's goalkicking from US flyhalf Matt Alexander, who landed six of eight attempts, good for all of his side's points.

Playing in front of a churlish Mohawk Sports Park crowd of 1550, the US took a 6-0 lead, courtesy of two Alexander penalty goals. Canadian flyhalf Bob Ross and his opposite then traded two penalty kicks apiece and the visitors went to half leading 12-6.

Both sides -- especially the Canadians -- consistently retained possession, yet hard tackling and disruptive tactics at the lineout kept openfield play to a minimum. The pattern continued through the second half.

Ross brought Canada to within three just after the restart, but missed a chance to level the game. Alexander then slotted a difficult 42-yarder to give his team a 15-9 advantage after 54 minutes.

Canada's Smith tallied at 58 minutes, cutting back behind the US defense to center a try, and Ross's conversion gave the Maple Leafs a 16-15 lead. Again Alexander responded, notching his sixth penalty goal to give the US an 18-16 edge with 13 minutes to go.

But shortly after the US pivot misfired on a short drop-goal attempt Canada launched its winning attack, sending Smith over in the right-hand corner. Ross's second conversion closed out the scoring.

"I thought that Canada did a very good job tonight," coach Jack Clark commented after the match. "It was a relatively even tussle but the game swung on a couple of key moments, and those moments belonged to Canada. Full marks to them."

With the loss, the US falls to 0-2 in the championship, while Canada goes to 2-0. Argentina, 29-26 victors over the US on Saturday, downed Uruguay 54-20 in the evening's first contest, setting up a clash of unbeaten teams in Saturday's finale in Toronto. The US meets Uruguay, also 0-2.

United States 18 (12): Alexander 6 penalty goals Canada 23 (6): Smith 2 tries, Ross 2 conversions, Ross 3 penalty goals