“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”.
Elland Road, the home of Leeds football club, is packed under a blue sky for Italy vs. Canada, two teams looking to rebound from first-up losses at the Rugby World Cup.
The SRU statement added: ” Finn Russell has sustained an inversion injury to his ankle, which will require further care and assessment.
Victory was Scotland’s, but there was significant room for improvement with the Springboks to come.
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.
Happily one of the Scots not to be rested was Finn Russell, the 23-year-old fly-half who fizzes passes with intuition and devil.
“I expect them to be very physical, very direct. They have speed and size and power”, Cotter said.
The Eagles have now played the #9 and #11-ranked teams in the world, and on October 7, things don’t get any easier with the United States’ third Rugby World Cup pool match against South Africa at London’s Olympic Stadium.
“We’re all really disappointed for Grant who is an important player to the group, both an athlete and as a decent human being”, Cotter told the Scottish Rugby website.
For an American to be saying that about a game against a top-tier team speaks volumes about the progress being made in US rugby.
“It was a nervous place to be”, Scotland winger Tim Visser said.
Certainly, Scotland know that they will have to be at their best from kick-off on Sunday in Newcastle if they are to inflict a second defeat of the competition on the former world champions. It can be brutal at times but there’s not much you can do about it.
“There’s going to be a lot of Scots coming over the border”, Brits said. “We need to have a full 360 on these players and have a look to see where we’re at”. “If we win all our matches, we’ll finish first”.
“We’ve made 10 changes but the eagerness of the guys making their first start should factor in our favour”. In the end Scotland’s big match experience proved the difference. After 40 minutes in which Scotland seemed to lack structure, the second half saw a focus on a solid set-piece as a means to launch forward drives which would create the space for Scotland’s backs.
“You know I’m never happy”, said Cotter, a dour New Zealander, despite the result.
“I stood on the Kop when I was a schoolboy”, recalls the former England scrum-half. 25-16. Momentum had switched enough now for Scotland to turn down penalty kicks in favour of attacking lineouts, a policy that paid dividends when another replacement, Matt Scott, danced through to claim a four-try bonus point.
“We’re rocking through these games, and in six days’ time we face South Africa – it just gets harder every week, doesn’t it?”