USA National Rugby Team


US Overruns Portugal 61-5

(Lisbon, Portugal) 8 April 1998 -- Two tries in the first ten minutes sent the United States rocketing to a 61-5 win over Portugal today at Lisbon's University Stadium in the first-ever international between the two teams.

Driving forward play and a record-tying four tries from wing Vaea Anitoni helped the US to the lopsided victory. The hosts, coming off Saturday's 30-7 World Cup qualifier win over Germany, were unable to recover from the slow start and trailed 36-0 at halftime.

The US looked much crisper than Sunday's 50-7 win over the Portugal Development XV, particularly in the tight five. "We were able to control things up front, and we looked to be deadly finishers when the opportunities presented themselves," US head coach Jack Clark commented after the match.

Center Alatini Saulala opened the scoring with a try at eight minutes, followed moments later by midfield partner Mark Scharrenberg. Both scores were converted by flyhalf Matt Alexander, staking the Eagles to a 14-0 lead.

A 19th-minute penalty goal from Alexander nudged the US further in front, before another scoring frenzy comprising tries from wing Dan Kennedy, Scharrenberg's second, and Anitoni's first put the game out of reach by intermission. Alexander converted two of three, part of a 16-point haul.

After the interval, the US logged another Alexander penalty goal, Anitoni's second try, and a penalty try before the hosts hit back with a converted try from halfback Francisco Rocha. Two fourth-quarter tries from Anitoni, tying the single-game record shared by he and Brian Hightower, wrapped up the scoring.

Despite the result, the US struggled throughout the match with stomach illness. Lock Alec Parker had to pass a fitness test just prior to kickoff, and during the game hooker Tom Billups took fluids intravenously while others struggled with cramping. Reserve Todd Giuntini was scratched entirely.

Now 2-0 on its tour of Portugal and Spain, the United States next takes the test stage on Sunday, against World Cup hopeful Spain in El Puerto de Santa Maria.

USA:   Tries: Vaea Anitoni (4), Mark Scharrenberg (2), Dan Kennedy, Alatini Saulala, penalty try.
     Conversions: Matt Alexander (5).
     Penalty goals: Matt Alexander (2).

Portugal:   Tries: Francisco Rocha.
     Conversions: none.
     Penalty goals: none.

Referee: I. Aguirre (Spain)