United States 6 Scotland 24 match report: Scotland make hard work of victory to give Vern Cotter a good idea of the difficult challenge he faces ahead

Scots scored three tries while keeping their own line intact but managed to throw away a number of scoring opportunities

Scotland made desperately hard work of it in the heat of the Houston night before welcoming in Vern Cotter as their new head coach with a 24-6 win over the United States.

They scored three tries, including a penalty try, and kept their line intact, but the New Zealander who has charge of the side through to the next World Cup will now know what work he has to do if he aims to forge a team capable of challenging a team with more weapons than the USA.

The Scottish success could have been more comfortable had their handling been better.

When it mattered, the Scots bossed the set-piece, but they butchered as many chances as they took and lost too many promising positions to handling mistakes.

As might have been expected with a team boasting as much experience as Scotland, they were the first to settle with Greig Laidlaw landing an early penalty after the forwards had destroyed the USA scrum.

The home side, however, were showing threats with the ball and took a lot of confidence from a rumbling 40-yard charge from Todd Clever, their captain, and almost immediately had the levelling penalty from Chris Wyles, the Saracens full-back.

There was no question, though, which team had the sharper cutting edge.

As long as the forwards were charging at each other, there was not a lot to choose between the teams, but once the likes of Stuart Hogg, the Scotland full-back, and Sean Matland, the wing, got into the action, it always caused problems for the Americans.

In the end, it told, with Laidlaw spotting a gap behind a ruck and his clean solo break gave Tim Visser, the wing making his return to Test rugby after a broken leg, an easy run in for the try, his seventh in 13 internationals, that Laidlaw converted.

There should have been several more before the break. Visser spilled an easy chance carved out by Hogg and Duncan Taylor, the centre, and was later to drop the ball going for a score. Then Hogg and Visser created an opening but the pass landed short of Laidlaw, and Wyles was able to clear to touch.

In the end, it did not matter. Scotland mauled and scrummed on the home line for almost five minutes before getting Olive Kilifi, the home prop, sin-binned for dropping one scrum too many, and when the USA did the same again, Scotland eventually got their reward with a penalty try that Laidlaw converted.

Despite being a man short, the home side thought they had a try of their own when Clever powered his way to the line only to be penalised for a double movement, but they did manage to see out the rest of the first half without further damage.

What Scotland were not doing was impressing. The missed chances were merely an example of a flurry of sloppy handling on a night when the heat and sweat might have excused the occasional dropped ball but not the number of mistakes they were making.

There was more of the same after the break as the heat started to take its toll on the bigger players and the match became even more stop-start. The Americans briefly cut into Scotland's lead with a second Wyles penalty.

It was always going to take a moment of brilliance to break the match open, and equally predictably it came from Hogg.

His superb catch of the high ball under pressure caught the USA by surprise as they all over-ran him and gave him the space to run the score in from 50 yards.

Laidlaw's equally assured touchline conversion made sure there was no way back for the home side.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project