Canada earn narrow victory over USA
May 20, 2001

Canada kicked their way to a 19-10 victory over the USA in the Visa Pan-American Championship Saturday.

In a typically tight contest, the teams scored one try each, but four penalties from Maple Leaf flyhalf Scott Stewart proved the difference.

"It was a very tight game and the result just came down to a couple of bounces of the ball," said US head coach Duncan Hall. "Canada deserved the win, but I was happy with the way our guys played. We kept the pressure on."

The US were hard on the Canadians' heels for most of the match. The Maple Leafs led 13-7 at the half, and as late as the 70th minute, the Eagles were within one score of their familiar foes.

As usual between the North American neighbors, it was a physical encounter with both teams showing plenty of defensive grit. The USA's backline was largely shut down by a fast, well-organized Canadian defense, and while the Eagles' less-experienced front row kept their Canadian counterparts in check, the US suffered several turnovers at the lineout forcing the US to prove their commitment to defense as well.

The Maple Leafs leapt out to a 10 point lead in as many minutes. Canadian flyhalf Scott Stewart slotted a relatively easy penalty after an offside call against the USA in the third minute, and five minutes later, a break through the centers set up a Canadian scrum at the US 5m. After several phases on the goalline, prop Jon Thiel barged over for the game's first try.

The match teetered back and forth for the next 20 minutes until Eagles' scrumhalf Kevin Dalzell singlehandedly pulled the USA back into contention. Canada attempted a quick throw-in to a midfield lineout which Dalzell picked off and went 45m to score. Flyhalf Grant Wells added the conversion from the sideline.

Canada's Stewart slotted a second penalty right on halftime to make it 13-7 at the break. He also opened the second half scoring with a penalty after 56 minutes, although Wells answered with one of his own a minute later.

The game was then deadlocked at 16-10 until Stewart's last penalty with 10 minutes to play.

In a late change for the USA, John Buchholz was promoted to the starting line-up, earning his first cap after an injury to Kurt Shuman. Kimball Kjar assumed a spot on the bench.

The day's other Visa Pan-American match saw Argentina survive a late charge from Uruguay. Ahead 22-6 at halftime, the Pumas won 32-27.

Final: Canada 19 USA 10 (halftime Canada (13-7)

Canada: Tries: Thiel
Conv: Stewart
Pens: Stewart (4)

USA: Tries: Dalzell
Conv: Wells
Pens: Wells

Referee: Mr. Santiago Borsani (Argentina)

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