Neath Downs Touring USA 39-15
(Cardiff, Wales) 4 January 1996 -- Struggling to a late start in the opening match of its abbreviated Welsh tour, the United States fell 39-15 to Neath RFC today in front of 500 people at Cardiff Arms Parkšs National Stadium.

Wing Chris Higgs, halfback Patrick Horgan, and center Geraint Evans scored tries to give Neath a 17-0 lead after 20 minutes, all before US flyhalf Matt Alexander got the visitors on the board with a penalty goal. The Eagles had previously frittered away two good scoring chances.

A Paul Williams penalty goal and a try right on halftime by hooker Barrie Williams brought the count to 27-3. Neath number eight Steve Williams, one of five Welsh internationals in the side that downed visiting Fiji earlier this season, added another score just after the restart.

Though playing better after the first quarter, the US got completely untracked in the second half and scored two good tries. At 58 minutes, number eight Rob Lumkong took a quick tap and raced 25 yards before passing to halfback Andre Bachelet, who held off the cover defense to score in the left corner. Nine minutes later, center Mark Scharrenberg scissored with Alexander to score near the posts.

The US threatened on several other occasions, but Neath earned the day's final try with an opportunist tally finished by replacement prop Kevin Allen.

In all, the two sides often played on level terms, but the Welsh club's undoubted superiority at the lineout and questionable kicking by the Americans showed as clear differences. Also, while the US made several handling errors, Neath made none in demonstrating very determined and powerful forward play as it approached the tryline.

"We looked very much like a team that hasn't been assembled or played together since September," US coach Jack Clark commented, "maybe even a team that fielded a lot of players out of season. We didn't get as much out of the lineout as we should have, and there were also some silly kicks. "But full marks to Neath. They showed today why they have always been very hard on tourists."

Neath: Tries: Chris Higgs, Patrick Horgan, Geraint Evans, Barrie Williams, Steve Williams, Kevin Allen. Conversions: Paul Williams (3). Penalty goal: Paul Williams.

United States: Tries: Andre Bachelet, Mark Scharrenberg. Conversions: Matt Alexander. Penalty goal: Matt Alexander.