US Downs Welsh Champion Pontypridd 15-13
(Cardiff, Wales) 7 January 1996 -- Just four minutes after entering the game, replacement center Richard Tardits intercepted a pass and raced 40 yards for a converted try that lifted the touring United States to a 15-13 win over 1996 Welsh champions Pontypridd. More than 2000 fans watched the contest at Cardiff Arms Park's National Stadium.

Pontypridd opened the scoring with a Paul Owen try, but US center and captain Mark Williams replied with a 24-yard penalty goal to make the count 5-3. After 16 minutes, the Eagles took the lead courtesy of uncapped winger Brian Hightower's third-phase, try-scoring scramble down the right sideline.

Thus the underdogs claimed an 8-5 edge before the very physical contest's action boiled over at 28 minutes, when Argentine-born prop Christian Martine blatantly punched US flanker Rob Randell and English referee Stewart Piercy was left with little choice but sending the Pontypridd player off.

But Pontypridd defended manfully and actually regained the lead three minutes after halftime. Elusive running by wing Gareth Wyatt turned a quick tap into a breathtakingly sudden try for the locals as well as renewed hope. After Williams fell short with a long-range penalty goal attempt, Pontypridd flyhalf Jason Strange hit a penalty goal to edge his side ahead, 13-8.

The US were not to be denied. Defending more surely in the forwards, tackling more soundly, and winning much more lineout ball than during Saturday's heavy loss to Neath, the visitors pressed their advantage. Tardits's score, at 30 minutes, rewarded the Eagles' greatly improved performance, and the visitors were even a bit unlucky not to widen their lead at 75 minutes when lock Luke Gross knocked on while diving over the line.

Contrasting Tuesday's win with Saturday's loss, US coach Jack Clark noted that "The better performance has a lot to do with training here for a few more days, working on our pattern and what we want to accomplish technically. [Against Neath,] We hadn't been together for three months, and with a couple of days' practice in the cold, you can't go in and play teams in mid-season.

"I�m hopeful we'll have an improved performance again on Saturday," he added of the coming test with Wales.

"I was very, very proud of our effort defensively," Williams noted. "There wasn't a man that didn't give everything he had. But we must continue to improve our offensive capabilities."

United States: Tries: Hightower, Tardits. Conversion: Williams. Penalty goal: Williams.
Pontypridd: Tries: Owen, Wyatt. Penalty goal: Strange.
Ref: Stewart Piercy (England)