Lightning, they say, never strikes twice. Try telling that to Hong Kong, who for the second time in seven days were hit by a thunderbolt which blew apart their Pacific Rim Championship ambitions. American fly-half Matt Alexander landed an amazing, 60-metre kick in injury-time to give the USA a shock, 17-14 win over the territory, and bring to an end a disappointing road trip. It was the second time in a week that Hong Kong had lost in the last seconds of a game. Canada had edged to a 17-16 win over Hong Kong in Vancouver, when Gareth Rees put over a penalty in a similar situation. Yesterday it was Alexander's turn to pile on the heartache for Hong Kong. A booming kick, taken from 10 metres inside his own half and right in front of the posts, saw the ball sweetly take flight before clearing the crossbar with about a metre to spare. Alexander's pumped-up fists and the screams from the sparse crowd at Balboa Park greeted the astonishing punt. It gave the Americans revenge for their 46-9 hammering in Hong Kong, and catapulted them above the territory in the standings. With one game left - against Japan on June 29 - Hong Kong's ambitions of winning the title are over. They have 10 points from five games, and are all but out of the running. Two losses, and both from penalty kicks in the last seconds: Hong Kong can feel justified in thinking they were hard done by. Then again, they have only themselves to blame for being in such a position against a young American side bearing seven changes since Hong Kong. The visitors struggled in the lineout throughout the game. Starved of good primary possession, the territory's much-vaunted backline rarely had a solid launching platform. Despite this, the outstanding loose play of the Hong Kong back row - especially the foraging efforts of openside flanker Brent Edwards - plus a solid scrum, gave the territory sufficient ball to dominate play for much of the first half. Yet they failed to convert territorial advantage - and two penalties - into points, resulting in a scoreless first half. Hong Kong did look dangerous whenever winger Chris Gordon joined the line from the blindside. On one such occasion the Americans were lucky to get away with a penalty - and not to concede a penalty try - after Gordon was hacked down by a high tackle with the line in sight. Hong Kong, with skipper Roger Patterson coming off the bench to replace Steve Pengelly, broke the deadlock soon after the interval when full-back Nigel D'Acre made a stunning, 60-metre break before being caught. The ball was won quickly by the tireless Edwards, for fly-half Carl Murray to dummy his way in untouched from 30 metres out. Gordon converted to see Hong Kong take a 7-0 lead. That was quickly snuffed out when US captain Dan Lyle charged over from a tap penalty near the left corner flag. Alexander struck the conversion sweetly to level the scores. But Hong Kong edged into the lead again 15 minutes later, when a concerted phase of driving play inside the American 22 ended with the territory being given a number of penalties. Hong Kong took the tap on all occasions, and it paid dividends when Murray fed Riaz Fredericks, who had another solid game, an inside pass to score under the posts, with Gordon improving the try. The Americans hit back with seven minutes left when they moved the ball wide for the first time. It came back the opposite way, and Alexander sliced a route through a bemused Hong Kong defence to score. He converted to level again and set the stage for his last-minute heroics. The opportunity for them arose when the Hong Kong forwards were spotted going over in a ruck. Alexander took the kick to seal Hong Kong's fate. 'I admire Dan Lyle for taking the decision to kick that penalty. He had a lot of faith in Alexander . . . I would have gone for the touch in the corner,' said American coach Jack Clark. Counterpart George Simpkin refused to speak, and just walked off the field. His body language said it all - Hong Kong were a crushed team.