Rugby World Cup: Vern Cotter's joy after Scotland fight back to beat USA
Scotland 39-16 USA
Scotland coach Vern Cotter was pleased to have "dodged a banana skin" as his side came from 13-6 down at half-time to claim a bonus-point World Cup victory over the United States at Elland Road.
The Scotland performance was strewn with errors in the first period and they trailed to the Eagles as prop Titi Lamositele's try threatened another Pool B upset to rival that caused by Japan in their shock victory over South Africa on the opening weekend.
However, an early Tim Visser try in the second period settled the nerves and they pulled clear to win 39-16 with further touchdowns from Sean Maitland, WP Nel, Matt Scott and Duncan Weir ensuring a second five-point maximum haul to follow the one they gained against Japan in Gloucester on Wednesday.
Cotter felt the four-day turnaround from that game to this one had been a factor in their unconvincing start but was impressed by the character of his men, who now have six days to prepare for a crunch match against South Africa at St James' Park in Newcastle.
"We're very happy to get the win and the bonus point. It was a game that was difficult to construct because it was a physical team in front of us," the New Zealander said.
"We weren't particularly accurate in the first 40 but the score early in the second half (from Visser) got us back on track and we managed to build through what was a reasonably difficult day of rugby with a win.
"The (tier two nations) are getting better and better every year, there are a few things to juggle up and try to get right, but luckily we dodged a banana skin and now we can build towards South Africa."
Fly-half Finn Russell suffered an ankle injury in the second half and Cotter said he and lock Grant Gilchrist, who has a suspected adductor problem, would be assessed over the next 24 hours. The lack of strength in depth at 10 will be a concern for Cotter if Russell is not fit to face the Boks.
Asked if he was happy with how the tournament had gone so far, Cotter added: "I'm never happy. We're okay with that, we're still looking at the content, the players pride themselves on improving."
Just as Canada had against Italy at the same venue on Saturday, the US were a confident and physically imposing outfit although coach Mike Tolkin felt they lost their way after conceding the early second-half try.
"Credit to Scotland, it was a team that was tired but they came out in the second half with a lot of energy when the game was in the balance," he said.
"Coming out (for the second half) we knew it was important to come out of the clubhouse and establish ourselves, keep territory, and just the opposite happened."