Scotland showed composure to comeback from being behind at half time and record another 5 pointer to top pool B after two rounds in the 2015 RWC. This was a stern test for the Scots. Vern Cotter, Scotland’s head coach, must be pleased with the win and his charges comeback plus the U.S.A test couldn’t have provided better preparation for the big showdown with the Springboks.
In the first half Scotland endeavoured to play with width to provide opportunities for their outside backs Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tim Visser. Maybe Scotland’s ambition never accounted for the physical assault first from the American forwards and then from the press defence. Scotland definitely were not in charge up front. So going wide off ball, provided from a losing forward battle, plays into the hands of an aggressive press defence.
That is what the American tacklers were, aggressive. Thretton Palamo was making massive hits unsettling the Scottish back play. Takudzwa Ngwenya normally known for his speed contributed to the big hitlist. As a result the Americans were able to unsettle the Scots and impose their own game on the Scots.
As a result the U.S.A went into the half-time break 13-6 up. This Scottish team seem to have a backbone. They never panicked under pressure, instead they went into the changeroom to reassess their strategy.
Scotland dominated the second half and scored early in the second 40 and maintained their hunger until the final whistle. What was so different about the second half compared to the first was that Scotland stopped trying to push passes to create space rather they knuckled down and worked hard off one out or even pick and go rugby. Trying to be direct but crucially trying to manufacture go forward ball.
When WP Nel and Alasdair Dickinson came on as replacements the dominance was further enhanced. They shored up the scrum and were very powerful with their pick and go’s. Matt Scott unlocked the American defence with a superb angled run that wrong footed six defenders. He may be someone to keep an eye on.
Ultimately what was impressive was that Scotland kept their composure under pressure and were able to work out what needed to change to get them going. They implemented that change and were successful.