Kickerless Scotland face fitness test against physical U.S

Fri Sep 25, 2015 10:04am EDT
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By John Geddie

LONDON (Reuters) - Having seen off a Japan side clearly weary from their heroics against the Springboks, Scotland now face a fitness challenge of their own as they prepare for a physical encounter with the United States after a four-day turnaround.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has made 10 changes to the side that ran in five second-half tries against the Brave Blossoms and has gambled on leaving goalkicker Greig Laidlaw on the bench for Sunday's match in Leeds against the error-prone Americans.

The United States matched the two tries scored by the Samoans in their first Pool B match, but points from the boot proved the difference as they capitulated 25-16.

Of the players likely to kick at goal for Scotland, flyhalf Finn Russell has scored only two conversions for his country, while fullback Stuart Hogg has a solitary penalty to his name.

Cotter's selection could also be a sign that he has instructed his side to prioritize the four tries needed to collect a bonus point against the team sitting at the bottom of a tight pool.

The mercurial Hogg, Scotland's most potent attacking threat, retains his place, as does center Mark Bennett, scorer of a brace of tries in Wednesday's 45-10 dismantling of Japan.

Of those brought into the side, winger Tim Visser, dubbed "the Dutch Flyer" because of his birthplace in the Netherlands, has scored nine tries in 21 appearances for Scotland, while center Peter Horne is an opportunistic support runner who will be dangerous in broken play.

History suggests that Scotland should win the tie. They will also be buoyed by the win over Japan, their biggest victory since beating Romania 42-0 in 2007.   Continued...

Rugby Union - Scotland v Japan - IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool B - Kingsholm, Gloucester, England - 23/9/15
Mark Bennett celebrates with team mates after scoring the fourth try for Scotland
Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Boyers