Cotter's winning start
Sun, 08 Jun 2014 09:24
Scotland got their four-Test mid-year tour off to a winning start with a three-try triumph over the United States in Houston.
The match was the first with new head coach Vern Cotter at the helm.
There were two tries from the back-three – Tim Visser and Stuart Hogg – sandwiching a pack-earned penalty try, to ensure Cotter got his tenure off to a winning start.
"Everybody is putting their hand up and trying to get the team going forward and initiative is a very important thing in this game," Cotter told a post-match media briefing.
"I was pleased that, even though there were mistakes made, there was still the intention to keep playing and keep pressure on the opposition."
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw was also pleased with the win.
"That was tough, we're not used to playing in heat like this," Laidlaw said of the 30°C-plus temperatures, but if the tough conditions offered any opportunity to the Americans on Saturday they were unable to take advantage.
The hosts' early aggression yielded more penalties than chances, and the Scots held them without a try.
"I thought we showed good structure in the first part of the first half and gave ourselves the opportunity to score a couple of tries," said Cotter, who has been tasked with guiding Scotland through next year's World Cup.
"Our scrum got the better of their scrum which enabled us to get a grip of the game and also gave us points as well, so that was pleasing.
"Very pleased to see the opportunities created - there's a good basis to work from."
Tim Visser and Stuart Hogg scored tries either side of half-time as Scotland made a solid start to a tour that will also include clashes with Canada, Argentina and South Africa this month.
Having lost their last two Six Nations fixtures to France and Wales in March, Scotland bounced back versus the Americans with Laidlaw opening the scoring in the sixth minute with a penalty goal.
The United States struck back through Chris Wyles's penalty, but Scotland seized control in the 14th when Laidlaw set up Visser for a try.
Laidlaw added the conversion and Scotland led 10-3, while a penalty try in the 31st minute and another kick from the Gloucester scrum-half gave the visitors a 14-point lead at the break.
The United States scored first in the second half with another Wyles penalty goal, but Hogg scored Scotland's third try in the 66th minute with a driving run, before Laidlaw's third goal stretched their lead to 24-6.
"The most important thing to come out of the game was we never got scored against," Laidlaw said.
"That was very important, to put a marker down in this first game of a tough two."
US coach Mike Tolkin was frustrated by his team's struggles.
"The first half of the game we were too aggressive where we shouldn't have been and got stupid penalties early on.
"We weren't aggressive where we needed to be, and that was around the fringes of the ruck and off the defensive line, and overall we didn't do a good enough job holding onto the ball."
For the United States:
Pens: Wyles 2
Tries: Visser, Penalty Try, Hogg
Cons: Laidlaw 3
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.
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Francesco Pastrana (Argentina), Chris Assmus (Canada)
TMO: Alan Hosie (Scotland)
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