Rugby World Cup 2015: Scotland 39-16 USA

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at Elland Road
Stuart Hogg breaks for Scotland
Stuart Hogg was dangerous for Scotland
Rugby World Cup: Scotland v USA
Scotland (6) 39
Tries: Visser, Maitland, Nel, Scott, Weir Cons: Russell, Laidlaw 3 Pens: Russell, Hogg
USA (13) 16
Try: Lamositele Con: MacGinty Pens: MacGinty 3

Scotland recovered from a 13-6 half-time deficit, securing a bonus-point win over USA to top World Cup Pool B.

The Americans battered the error-prone favourites in the opening half, Titi Lamositele burrowing over the line.

A dynamic bench helped spark Scotland after the interval, though, as Tim Visser, Sean Maitland and WP Nel all crossed smartly.

Matt Scott picked a sumptuous line to score a fourth try, and Duncan Weir added a late fifth from close range.

Imbued with great transatlantic fervour, the USA defence made hay from Scottish inaccuracies during a maddening first 40 minutes for Vern Cotter's side, where attacking opportunities were bungled by loose passes and hot heads.

The likes of Nel, Scott, Tim Swinson and Greig Laidlaw, however, brought efficiency and control from the bench where Scotland had threatened to descend into chaotic rugby reminiscent of days sooner consigned to memory.

The major blight for Cotter will be an injury to key pivot Finn Russell, who was helped from the field midway through the second-half resurgence.

Relive Scotland's five-try win over the USA.

Willem Nel of Scotland
WP Nel scored Scotland's third try

New half, new team

Scotland's day changed after the half-time break. Everything about them was better. The troubled scrum settled down, the physical battles they were losing now started to be won, the accuracy that was beyond them in the opening half suddenly materialised.

Key to all of this were Cotter's half-time replacements. Nel and Alasdair Dickinson replaced the toiling Ryan Grant and Jon Welsh and quickly Scotland's dominance was established. Nel, in particular, was pivotal. He not only sorted out the scrum but he carried ball and also scored. Immense.

The half-time substitutes - as well as a verbal volley from Cotter - galvanised Scotland, but the fact they were so wretched in that first half raises huge issues for their management.

Two wins, two bonus points, but...

Finn Russell is injured
Finn Russell was injured during the second half in Leeds

For Scotland, the big games are yet to come. On the face of it they are buzzing. Two wins, 10 tries and plenty of forward momentum. But their resources are thin and this game against the Americans revealed just how thin.

Russell going off injured was a gulp-inducing moment. John Hardie's absence was also felt. Scotland have only one viable open-side. The situation in the front row is also troubling. The Scots will be in good shape as long as Dickinson and Nel can stay fit and well. Without them? Their vulnerabilities are laid bare.

What is also obvious, however, is that when Scotland get decent ball and are accurate they have all manner of game-breakers behind the scrum. They have done what they needed to do, but the massive tests are now upon them, starting with South Africa on Saturday.

Pool B
Scotland top Pool B after two matches, with a game against the Springboks next

Match stats

  • Scotland have posted 30+ points in three of their last four Tests, having previously failed to do so in seven matches.
  • Scotland have now won all five meetings between the two nations.
  • The Eagles have won just one of their last 11 in the Rugby World Cup.
  • Chris Wyles made his 50th Test start for the United States.
  • Tim Visser has now scored three tries across his last three appearances for Scotland.

A word from the captain

Henry Pyrgos captained Scotland at the start of the match
Henry Pyrgos captained Scotland at the start of the match before being replaced by Greig Laidlaw

Henry Pyrgos: "We just needed to settle down, it was a frustrating first half. There were lots of opportunities out there and we just didn't take them. Credit to USA, they made us pay, they scored a try, they took the points on offer.

"A lot of that was down to our mistakes, which was really frustrating because we'd had a good week, we knew what we needed to do but we couldn't manage to do it.

"We settled down at half-time, we looked after our jobs, and we made sure we held onto the ball and caused them problems in the second half.

"We were just trying to force things [in the first half], there was a lot of space out there and we were trying to get it out there too quickly. There were a lot of times we made line breaks and didn't finish it off. A few bad decisions in defence gave them a lot of field position and put us under pressure."


Scotland: Hogg, Maitland, Bennett, Horne, Visser, Russell, Pyrgos, Grant, Ford, Welsh, R. Gray, Gilchrist, Strokosch, Wilson, Strauss.

Replacements: Scott for Horne (55), Weir for Russell (60), Laidlaw for Pyrgos (53), Dickinson for Grant (41), Bryce for Ford (78), Nel for Welsh (41), Swinson for Gilchrist (17), Brown for Wilson (46).

USA: Wyles, Ngwenya, Kelly, Palamo, Scully, MacGinty, Petri, Fry, Thiel, Lamositele, Smith, Peterson, McFarland, Durutalo, Manoa.

Replacements: Niua for Scully (59), S. Suniula for Petri (50), Kilifi for Fry (67), Fenoglio for Thiel (64), Baumann for Lamositele (69), Barrett for Peterson (50), Quill for Durutalo (59). Not Used: Dolan.

Att: 33,521

Ref: Chris Pollock (New Zealand).