Scotland A off to a shaky start

Rory Lamont touched down as Scotland ‘A’ opened their Barclays Churchill Cup campaign with an unconvincing 13-9 victory over the USA Eagles in Henley on Wednesday.

USA Rugby chief executive Nigel Melville had expressed his dismay at the strength of the Scots line-up before the match but he need not have worried.

Last year’s beaten finalists may have included 10 capped internationals in their side but they struggled against a team that was thumped 51-3 by England Saxons last Friday.

Glasgow winger Lamont ran in their only try as they failed to capitalise on their superior possession and had to rely on Gordon Ross to kick them out of trouble.

The Castres fly-half finished with eight points, but his effort was eclipsed by USA full-back Francois Viljoen who landed three penalties to keep his side in the hunt.

It looked so different early on as Scotland ran in a try with just 10 minutes on the clock, a dropped up and under from Viljoen doing the initial damage.

The Scots kept the ball through three phases and, after stretching the USA’s defence, they found lock Andrew Hall who drew the last defender before supplying the scoring pass to Lamont.

Northampton winger Chris Wyles was prominent as the Eagles launched a promising attack but fly-half Valenese Malifa lost the ball in heavy traffic and limped off shortly after.

Giant Narbonne back Salesi Sika replaced him in the 25th minute but endured a nightmare opening, dropping a pass with his first touch of the ball and then waving prop Alasdair Dickinson through with a weak tackle.

Ross drilled over a penalty to add to his conversion as Scotland put the Americans’ line under sustained pressure, but their defence held firm.

And it was USA who finished the half stronger, showing some neat touches in an impressive passage of play that was completed by a penalty from Viljoen.

The full-back slotted another three points shortly after the interval with Sika leading the Eagles’ charge deep into opposition territory.

Scotland skipper Rory Lawson squandered a chance in the right corner and then Hadden’s men came under pressure.

Hooker Scott Lawson was sin-binned in the 54th minute for killing the ball and Viljoen landed the penalty, slashing the USA’s deficit to 10-9.

Ross missed a penalty but atoned with a simple three points after openside Todd Clever has been sin-binned for illegally halting a Scotland attack under the posts.

The USA went in search of the winning try with a late flourish but they were thwarted by a mean defence as nervy Scotland help out for victory.

The scorers:

For Scotland A:
Try: Lamont
Con: Ross
Pens: Ross 2

For the USA:
Pens: Viljoen 3

The teams:

Scotland A: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Simon Webster, 13 Calum MacRae, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Thom Evans, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Rory Lawson (captain), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 John Barclay, 6 Steve Swindall, 5 Iain Fullarton, 4 Andrew Hall, 3 Bruce Douglas, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Fergus Thomson, 17 Craig Smith, 18 Mark Rennie, 19 Alasdair Strokosch, 20 Rob Chrystie, 21 Phil Godman, 22 Robbie Kydd.

USA: 15 Francois Viljoen, 14 Chris Wyles, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Albert Tuipulotu, 11 Mike Palefau, 10 Valenese Malifa, 9 Kimball Kjar, 8 Louis Stanfill, 7 Todd Clever, 6 Mark Aylor, 5 Mike Mangan, 4 Hayden Mexted, 3 Chris Osentowski, 2 Mark Crick, 1 Mike MacDonald.
Replacements: 16 Blake Burdette, 17 Mike French, 18 Inaki Basauri, 19 Dan Payne, 20 David Williams, 21 Vaha Esikia, 22 Salesi Sika.

Referee: Phil Smith (Canada)
Touch judges: George Clancy (Ireland), Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assessor: Clive Nicholas
Television match official: Wayne Barnes


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