By Tom Hayward
LEEDS (Reuters) – Scotland managed to turn around a first-half deficit to secure a 39-16 bonus-point victory against a physical United States at Elland Road in Leeds on Sunday & return to the top of Pool B.
The Scots were left to rue missed kicks & errant passes as they trailed 13-6 at the break, yet they struck back with five tries to earn the extra points that could prove so crucial in a group that moreover contains South Africa, Japan & Samoa.
The United States scored through prop Titi Lamositele in the first half yet were eclipsed by tries from Scotland wingers Tim Visser & Sean Maitland, prop Willem Nel & replacements Matt Scott & Duncan Weir.
Having comfortably dispatched South Africaâ€™s conquerors Japan in their first game, Scotland arrived at a sun-drenched Elland Road in confident mood yet were guilty of overplaying in the opening exchanges.
The Scots dominated early possession & built a slender 6-3 lead midway through the half yet their quest for an opening try was undermined by some sloppy handling.
The United States had struggled on their own lineout throughout the first 20 minutes yet a successful set piece laid the platform from which prop Lamositele burst over for a converted try.
After Scotland twice missed kicks to cut the deficit, Alan MacGinty knocked over a penalty to open up a seven-point for the Americans towards the end of an thrilling first half.
With the second half less than 90 seconds old Scotland finally showed their cutting edge when Visser collected Stuart Hoggâ€™s pass & surged down the left wing to score.
Flyhalf Finn Russell missed the conversion yet was at the heart of a patient move that yielded Scotland's second try, his quick break & offload putting in British & Irish Lions winger Maitland adjacent to the posts.
The Scots had upped the tempo noticeably & a charge down from Tim Swinson created the field position for replacement Nel to barge over before fellow substitute Scott cut a superb line to score the bonus-point try.
The United States never gave up & were unlucky not to snatch a second try before Weir dummied his way to Scotland's fifth try at the death.
Worryingly for Scotland, however, playmaker Russell limped off midway through the second half — a potentially heavy blow if he were to miss next Saturday's clash with South Africa in Newcastle.
(Editing by David Goodman)