USA National Rugby Team

Canada Downs US 22-11 in Pacific Rim Finale

(San Francisco, California) 28 June 1997 -- Three penalty goals from Bob Ross and a late try by Winston Stanley broke a 8-8 halftime deadlock and lifted visiting Canada to a 22-11 victory over the United States in both teams' final Canterbury of New Zealand Pacific Rim Rugby Championship match Saturday at Balboa Park's Boxer Stadium.

Trailing 14-11, the US were crippled when referee Shin-ichi Iwashita ejected prop Bill LeClerc from the game at 69 minutes for punching, acting on the advice of touch judge Giles Wilson. Television replays did not make the sending-off offense clear, in as much as Canadians Richard Bice and Mike James were also shown punching in a relatively minor dustup. However, Iwashita had apparently issued a general warning to the US after Canadian Gareth Rees left the field with a broken nose at 46 minutes.

Stanley's try and the third of Ross's penalty goals came after LeClerc left the field.

"We were very surprised by the sending off," US manager Michael de Jong said after the match. "There was a lot of physical play going in both directions. It was odd to see."

Canada jumped to a 3-0 lead on an early penalty goal from flyhalf Rees. The US quickly responded with an unconverted try from center Alatini Saulala, set up by fullback Chris Morrow's penetrating strike. Flyhalf Matt Alexander extended the American lead to 8-3 with an easy penalty goal at the end of the first quarter, but Rees struck back with a burrowing, unconverted scoring run at 33 minutes to tie the match.

Though the US enjoyed a bit more first-half possession, neither team developed any continuity because the two archrivals hit each other hard. The pattern continued in the second half.

Having moved to flyhalf for the temporarily injured Rees, Ross slotted penalty goals at 51 and 55 minutes, while Alexander countered at 58 minutes. Then came Iwashita's fateful decision.

"Although it was an improvement on our first match with Canada, we're certainly disappointed to lose," US coach Jack Clark said after the match. "It was an odd game that never really got started."

The win drops the USA's final record to 3-3, while Canada goes to 5-1 and underlines its second Pacific Rim title in the two-year-old competition. The Eagles await the result of tomorrow's Japan-Hong Kong match to learn their final standing.

United States: Try: Saulala
Penalty goals: Alexander (2)
Canada: Tries: Rees, Stanley
Penalty goals: Rees, Ross (3)