Scots Stutter To Opening Win

Scotland A 13 USA 9 Scotland escaped with a narrow and unconvincing victory in their Barclays Churchill Cup opener against the USA tonight. The Americans who had been beaten up front by England A in their first match, were altogether more aggressive at the breakdown and Scotland A will have to improve considerably for their match with the England Saxons at Twickenham on Monday.

Scotland A 13 - 9 USA

Scotland escaped with a narrow and unconvincing victory in their Barclays Churchill Cup opener against the USA tonight.

The Americans who had been beaten up front by England A in their first match, were altogether more aggressive at the breakdown and Scotland A will have to improve considerably for their match with the England Saxons at Twickenham on Monday.

Scotland coach Frank Hadden acknowledged that his colleague, forwards' coach George Graham, was "tearing his hair out" that his charges did not create the platform up front to enable the Scots to build a substantial victory.

"We got into very good field positions but we lost ball at scrum, lost ball at lineout and were turned over in the loose," Hadden added.

After a day of baking temperatures in the London area, the players in both teams must have been glad that it was an early evening kick-off at the Dry Leas ground, home of Henley Hawks, on the banks of the Thames.

Rory Lamont, in sparkling form of late for Glasgow, made a promising early counter-attack that all but unleashed Alasdair Dickinson.

Fittingly Lamont did claim the opening try in ten minutes after Graeme Morrison had found space on the right and swift transference left enabled the full-back to cross. Gordon Ross kicked a fine conversion and as Scotland continued to dominate territory, with the back three lively, Ross added a 31st minute penalty.

The game became bogged down in something of an arm wrestle and from a period of retained possession in first-half injury time, American captain Francois Viljoen kicked an offside penalty.

Half time Scotland A 10 - 3 USA

Failure to roll away in the tackle had not been on the referee's radar in the first-half but it did appear two minutes into the second period when Dickinson was identified as the culprit and Viljoen landed his second penalty.

Johnnie Beattie and Rory Lawson made uncharacteristic errors as the Scots struggled to get any form of continuity.

Scott Lawson was then yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on, an offence which saw Viljoen narrow the gap to one point with his third goal.

In Lawson's ten minute absence the Scots' defence held firm, indeed the only scoring chance was an abortive Ross penalty.

Restored to full strength (with Alasdair Strokosch introduced as a substitute) Scotland did find a foothold in the American 22 and when Todd Clever poached ball at breakdown illegally he was shown the yellow card and Ross kicked the penalty.

Scotland A

Rory Lamont (Glasgow Warriors); Simon Webster (Edinburgh Rugby), Calum MacRae (Border Reivers)*, Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors); Gordon Ross (Castres), Rory Lawson (Gloucester) captain*; Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby)*, Scott Lawson (Glasgow Warriors)*, Bruce Douglas (Border Reivers), Andrew Hall (Newport Gwent Dragons), Iain Fullarton (Saracens), Steve Swindall (Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors)*, John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)*

Subs

Craig Smith (Edinburgh Rugby) for Douglas and Mark Rennie (Bourgoin) for Fullarton (both 47 mins), Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Rugby)* for Swindall (59 mins), Alasdair Strokosch (Edinburgh Rugby)* for Lawson (64 mins), Robbie Kydd (Northampton Saints) for Morrison (68 mins), Robert Chrystie (Border Reivers) for Lawson (73 mins), Phil Godman (Edinburgh Rugby) for Ross (81 mins).
* = Member of Scottish Institute of Sport

USA

Francois Viljoen captain; Chris Wyles, Paul Emerick, Albert Tuipulotu, Mike Palefau; Valenese Malifa, Kimball Kjar; Mike Macdonald, Mark Crick, Chris Osentowski, Hayden Mexted, Mike Mangan, Mark Aylor, Louis Stanfill, Todd Clever.

Officials

Referee: Phil Smith (Canada)