The Eagles’ remaining matches now are against South Africa, the cream of the group, and Japan, a developing rugby nation whose win over South Africa on September 19 was one of the greatest upsets in the sport’s history.
Once again the Dark Blues threatened to falter before pulling away but the Glasgow Warrior insists that won’t be good enough against a superior Springboks.
He told Press Association Sport: “There’s still five days before the game and Finn is a young guy so he will heel quickly but if he doesn’t make it I’d certainly hope I would get the chance to step up and face South Africa”. We need to go right from the first whistle because if we play like that we could find ourselves 20 or 30 points down.
“We changed tactically and the boys were very receptive as always”.
He seemed to be cursed when it came to World Cups. “They gave us a good workout for our first game and it took time for us to get into our stride” said.
“From our standpoint in the first half we got momentum, playing direct, and we went in with the lead”. We know what we’re capable of and a lot more people realise now too.
By then, Scotland – sitting top of the pool with a maximum 10 points – may have sealed its spot in the quarterfinals, though that will require a victory over the Springboks in six days.
America came with power and pace but the physicality didn’t hide their technical failings.
The injury to Russell is a real concern as he provides much of the spark and creates space for the others in the backline.
The US eventually infringed under the pressure and Russell booted the Scots ahead from the tee before Hogg erred from the tee with another long-range effort.
US: 15 Chris Wyles (c), 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Blaine Scully, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Al McFarland, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Eric Fry.
And Hodge revealed the Scotland coaching team was due to meet last night to discuss Russell’s injury and to select a replacement for Gilchrist.
Josh Strauss barged his way upfield and this time Hogg was inch-perfect with his pass out wide for Visser to score in the corner. Losing 13-6 at halftime, the Scots looked rattled as they trudged back to the locker room to the backdrop of “U-S-A, U-S-A” chants around Elland Road.
“We were making mistakes all over the place in the first half”, said Visser. It did not take long for the fly-half to atone however, providing a delightful offload for Sean Maitland, running a shrewd inside line, who cruised over. Russell tugged his conversion.
MacGinty added another penalty seconds later to narrow the margin but Scotland were now rampant.
Not quite. Another penalty from MacGinty reduced the gap to two points, but the suspicion that Scotland’s fitness and strength in depth would take its toll was reinforced when replacement WP Nel bullocked his way over the line for the Scots’ third try.
It arrived in the 65th minute as Laidlaw recycled the ball to Edinburgh centre Matt Scott, who made an angled break to the line from close range.