(Buenos Aires, Argentina) 18 August 1998 -- Sixteen points from flyhalf and captain Gareth Rees carried Canada to a 31-14 victory over the United States in today's Rugby World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires.
In a mistake-filled second quarter, the United States lapsed from 5-0 to a 25-0 halftime deficit, surrendering two of Canada's three first-half tries. The Eagles generally carried play in the second half, scoring two tries and losing a third to a forward pass, but couldn't overcome the deficit.
Jason Hall's opening try summarized the USA's night. After the US fumbled in attack, the center chipped behind the weakened defense to recover for an unconverted score. Two Rees penalty goals--amid five straight US infractions--boosted the count to 11-0, before the flyhalf fed surging wing David Lougheed with a no-look pass for a converted try.
John Graf's 37th-minute goal came after referee Chris White seemed to ignore a ball thrown forward, and also seemed to end the contest.
But flanker Dave Hodges and scrumhalf Kevin Dalzell tallied second-period scores for the US, offset by two more Rees penalty goals. Hodges first Eagle try resulted from a nifty break by flyhalf Ian Stevens, while Dalzell's second this summer was sheerly the product of will, as Dalzell was tripped on his way to the line but jumped back up to fend defenders and stumble over.
The US again suffered a heavily uneven penalty count, before Canada's defense began checking Eagle momentum with spoiling tactics. Both US tries began with quick-thinking tap moves by Dalzell.
Both prop Bill LeClerc (knee) and fullback Chris Morrow (ankle) went out in the first half of tonight's contest, and their status couldn't immediately be determined.
The loss drops the US to 0-2 in the Americas zone tournament, setting up a showdown with winless Uruguay for the final place in next year's World Cup in Wales. Argentina, who pummeled a second-string Uruguay 55-0 in tonight's other match, will meet Canada for first place and favorable seeding.
Final: Canada 31 United States 14 (halftime Canada 25-0)
Canada: Tries: Jason Hall, David Lougheed, John Graf
Conversions: Gareth Rees (2)
Penalty goals: Gareth Rees (4)
United States: Tries: Dave Hodges, Kevin Dalzell
Conversions: Ian Stevens (2)
Referee: Chris White (England)
United States: Chris Morrow (Steve Hiatt); Vaea Anitoni, Juan Grobler, Mark Scharrenberg, Brian Hightower; Ian Stevens, Kevin Dalzell; George Sucher, Tom Billups (captain), Bill LeClerc (John McBride), Luke Gross, Bill LeClerc, Dave Hodges, Fifita Mounga (Shaun Paga), Rob Lumkong (Jason Walker).