USA v. Scotland by the Numbers: What to Watch For
Both of these teams will be looking forward to their second matches in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup, but for very different reasons.
Scotland will be eager to show that they are as strong and complete a team as they looked in their first match when they overpowered a Japan team that had already beaten South Africa. That match may go down as the biggest upset ever in the history of the tournament.
After that match, rugby fans around the world were tuned in to watch Scotland play the Brave Blossoms to see if Japan could get their second win. Scotland responded to the challenge by registering a convincing victory that showcased their skills in the pack, in the backs, and in the set piece.
They looked very much improved from the team that lost every match this spring in the RBS 6 Nations tournament. During the Japan match this week, Scotland played an exciting, attacking style of rugby and was able to score five tries in a huge 45 to 10 win.
On the other side of the upcoming clash, the United States will want to show they are capable of playing better rugby than they displayed in their opening-round loss to Samoa. The Eagles might have seen Samoa as a real chance to get a victory in this very tough pool, but instead, the United States were beaten 25 to 16. The Eagles will likely be working hard to regroup and focus on getting a vital win and improving their play against the Scots.
Despite the final tally against Samoa, the Eagles showed that they are a consistent, capable side that can stand toe-to-toe with quality teams in the World Cup field.
After the first weekend of matches, Scotland is now ranked 12 in the world, while the Eagles have dropped to 16.
Both teams have a good deal of experience with the Eagles averaging 18 caps per player. Scotland has 23 caps each.
While Scotland players are younger than the Eagles (26 to 27 years old), they have roughly the same amount of bulk as both teams average just less than 250 pounds per player.
Overall, the Eagles will need to be solid in the scrums and capitalize on every chance to gain possession in the line outs if they want to pull achieve and upset.
A critical area for this match is likely to be the back three players on each team - the two wingers and the fullback.
In their first match against Japan, Scotland's back three (Sean Lamont and Tommy Seymour on the wings and Stuart Hogg at fullback) showed speed and creativity in their attacking play. The three of them carried the ball for 176 meters against Japan and Seymour scored a try.
If they can keep up their energetic play and continue to pressure the defenses, they will be tough to take down.
The Eagles also looked very good in the back three positions (Chris Wyles and Taku Ngwenya on the wings and Blaine Scully at fullback with Brett Thompson as his replacement) where they accounted for 147 meters against the Samoans.
If the three Eagles backs can keep up a sustained attack, it may give the Scotland backs something to worry about and keep them from focusing on their powerful attack. How the Scotland backs are able to find space in attack and the Eagles response and counterattack could be a pivotal area in determining the outcome.