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