Jones, who will leave the Japan post to take over at the South African Super Rugby franchise Western Stormers after the World Cup, would not use Japan’s restricted four-day rest from the South Africa win as an excuse. To sit back and nearly play last in the tournament was hard. “We’ll try our best to get on with it”.
But in the end it was the boot of Tommaso Allan that proved the difference between the well-matched sides, the fly-half weighing in with 13 points.
With nine other changes, including a first start for Glasgow’s South African No 8 Josh Strauss, it could be perceived as a gamble against a USA side Cotter reckons have improved since they were beaten 24-6 by the Scots in Texas past year.
The U.S. had all the momentum going in to the second half, and Scotland were devoid of ideas and execution.
The US lost 25-16 to Samoa in their opening Pool B game last Sunday but they more than matched the physicality of the Pacific Islanders.
Duncan Weir replaced Russell after he was injured in the 60th minute against the States and scored the fifth and final try but Cotter will hope to have his first-choice 10 fit to face the Boks in Newcastle this weekend as they look to clinch a quarter-final slot. Their discipline let them down and allowed the Samoans to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
“It’s about energy”, the Scotland coach said.
World Cup rules make competing countries name their teams two days before each match, but there is nothing to stop late alterations on injury grounds.
That match was Cotter’s first in charge and also marked the full global debut of Russell, who is expected to take on the kicking duties tomorrow, so the Scots will be under no illusions about the task ahead, especially as the Eagles will be boosted by the inclusion of the forceful Toulon-bound No?8 Samu Manoa. Just as importantly for Scotland, as Hogg explained, they were able to remain patient both under pressure and on the ball, trusting in one another and in their defensive system.
I think it’s pathetic and it’s ruining the game.
Watching back the video, they will have seen an impressive performance by Scotland at Kingsholm, which has given its players’ more belief that they can qualify from what is set up to be a tight pool.
A statement from the Scottish medics said: “Having produced inconclusive results to a precautionary HIA 2 (head injury assessment) after Wednesday’s win over Japan, the openside – who remains symptom free – was reassessed yesterday afternoon (Friday)”.
On Sunday, it’s the Scots needing to back up two Pool B games in four days when they play the United States in Leeds. “I would expect a high octane pace from them”.
But Tim Swinson hunted down replacement scrum-half Shalom Suniula upon the restart and though the Americans kept Strauss out from close range, Nel burrowed his way to the base of the post.