Preview: United State v Scotland
Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:35
I like what he offers
New Zealander Vern Cotter makes his debut as the coach of Scotland's national team against the United States in Houston on Saturday.
Three debutants will see their first action for Scotland in the match against the Americans, who will be in the same pool as the Scots in next year's World Cup.
"There's a lot of excitement within the team leading into this test," Cotter said.
"There are players who are going to earn their first cap for Scotland, and there are those who see this as a chance to stake a claim for the World Cup squad in 2015, as there are only a certain number of opportunities remaining for players to express and prove themselves."
For the underdog Eagles, it will be a good early look at where they will need to improve to threaten next year.
"It will be a good preview," US coach Mike Tolkin said. "We'll prepare like we do for every international. It's not going to be anything over the top."
Glasgow Warriors prop Gordon Reid and club teammate, flyhalf Finn Russell will make their international debuts, as will London Irish back row forward Blair Cowan.
Experienced forwards include hooker Scott Lawson, prop Geoff Cross and locks Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton while Cowan's back row includes Perpignan's Alasdair Strokosch and Castres number eight Johnnie Beattie, making his first start since hurting his ankle in March in a Six Nations match against France.
Russell, 21, will have captain and scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw providing direction with centres Duncan Taylor and Sean Lamont and backs Tim Visser, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg all offering support.
"We need to look at our options in decision making and game-controlling and Finn has been playing very well of late for Glasgow Warriors. This is a good chance for him," Cotter said.
"I like what he offers. He seems a composed young lad for 21 who controls games and will obviously grow in this position as he develops.
"Gordon has also impressed with Glasgow. He offers size and mobility and it'll be interesting to see what he brings to the forward engagement.
"Injuries to Ross Rennie and John Barclay give Blair a chance to compete for the back-row jersey."
The Scotsmen are 3-0 all-time against the US Eagles, the most recent win courtesy of a 39-15 triumph at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
While the Americans are ranked eight spots below Scotland at 18th in the world, Cotter is cautious about the challenge they pose in the Texas heat.
"It's important that we have a very physical approach to the game," he said. "We're in for a tough test because they come out quickly in defence to try and stress you, so we'll have to keep composure under that kind of pressure."
Players to watch:
For the United State: You start with veteran captain Todd Clever, who has gained experience by playing all over the world - including a stint in Super Rugby. Fullback Chris Wyles, scrumhalf Mike Petri and Louis Stanfill will be the other player who need to provide a claming influence.
For Scotland: The spotlight might be on new coach Vern Cotter, but it is seasoned players like fullback Stuart Hogg, scrumhalf and captain Greig Laidlaw, No.8 Johnnie Beattie, lock Jim Hamilton and hooker Scott Lawson that will have to win the game.
Head to head: On debut for American Andrew Suniula will face a tough tests against Scotland's Duncan Taylor in midfield. Mike Petri (America) will face probably Scotland's most valuable player in Greig Laidlaw.
2003: Scotland won 39-15, Brisbane (World Cup pool match)
2002: Scotland won 65-23, San Francisco
2000: Scotland 53-6, Edinburgh
Prediction: This could be one-way traffic. Yes, the Americans have some good players, but they lack the dept to test Scotland, even with a host of young players. Scotland to win by 20 points or more.
United States: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Luke Hume, 10 Shalom Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Cameron Dolan, 7 Scott LaValla, 6 Todd Clever (captain), 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Louis Stanfill, 3 Eric Fry, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Olive Kilifi.
Replacements: 16 Tom Coolican, 17 Nick Wallace, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Tai Tuisamoa, 20 Danny Barrett, 21 Folau Niua, 22 Chad London, 23 Tim Maupin.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Moray Low, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Kieran Low, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Max Evans.
Date: Saturday, June 7
Venue: Compass Stadium, Houston
Kick-off: 19.00 (12.00, Sunday, June 8 GMT; 13.00, Sunday, June 8 Scotland time)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy, with a 20 percent chance of rain. High of 34°C and a low of 24°C
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Francesco Pastrana (Argentina), Chris Assmus (Canada)
TMO: Alan Hosie (Scotland)
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