Scotland v USA preview: Scots to make it 10 points from 10
An improving Scotland side is aiming to be the only team in Pool B to achieve maximum points from their opening two games. They dispatched Japan with consummate ease and will look to do the same against an energetic USA outfit.
Scotland racked up the points against the Brave Blossoms, but they must face The Eagles with a much-changed line-up. The USA scored one try against Samoa, and they will need to rack up some points from the tee if they are to have any chance of keeping with the Scots.
Vern Cotter’s charges put five tries past Japan, and the Coach will look to the least experienced side to grace this World Cup to do something similar against the USA.
It also happens to be Scotland’s second youngest team in the history of the tournament, and they have just 273 international caps between them.
There are several changes to the starting lineup, with Sean Maitland, Peter Horne, Tim Visser, Henry Pyrgos, Ryan Grant, Fraser Brown, Jon Welsh, Richie Gray, Alasdair Strokosch, John Hardie and Josh Strauss all receiving the nod.
The USA meanwhile has made just one change to the side that ran Samoa close one week ago, with Phil Thiel replacing Zach Fenoglio as hooker.
Two of the Eagles in this XV are closing in on Mike McDonald’s record of 11 Rugby World Cup appearances, with Chris Wyles, and Takudzwa Ngwenya set to make their ninth showing in the tournament.
Players to watch
Glasgow Warriors ace Russell is one of the key cogs in Vern Cotter’s every-improving Scotland team. The fly-half put in a solid display in the Scots’ opening victory against Japan, prominently being involved in a lot of attractive attacking play before running in a try himself in the second half.
In a tough tussle against Samoa, flanker Andrew Durutalo was a rock. With one turnover won and a tackle success rate of 87%, the 27-year-old was kept on his toes in defence, and he need to be alert here facing a young and dynamic Scottish side. On his 11th cap, the back row will also attempt to power over for his fifth international try.
Scotland flexed their muscle against Japan in their tournament opener with a dominant five point display. Vern Cotter will expect the same again here, and some of his young guns may even stake a claim for a spot in the team to face Pool B favourites South Africa next weekend. The Eagles impressed with two tries against Samoa, and they were unlucky not to come away from that match with a point. The Eagles are unlikely to cause Scotland much trouble here, despite it being a vastly inexperience side.
Scotland by 40.
Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg; 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Peter Horne, 11. Tim Visser, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Henry Pyrgos; 8. Ryan Grant, 7. Fraser Brown, 6. Jon Welsh, 5. Richie Gray, 4. Grant Gilchrist, 3. Alasdair Strokosch, 2. John Hardie, 1. Josh Strauss
Replacements: 16. Ross Ford, 17. Alasdair Dickinson, 18. Willem Nel, 19. Tim Swinson, 20. Ryan Wilson, 21.Greig Laidlaw, 22. Duncan Weir, 23. Matt Scott.
USA: 15. Chris Wyles; 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
Replacements: 16. Zach Fenoglio, 17. Oli Kilifi, 18. Chris Baumann, 19. Cam Dolan, 20. John Quill, 21. Danny Barrett, 22. Shalom Suniula, 23. Folau Niua
Date: Sunday, September 27
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds
Kick off: 14.30
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: John Lacey, Mike Fraser
Television match official: Ben Skeen