Sunday, July 14, 2024

Preview: USA vs. Scotland – prediction, team news, lineups

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Sports Mole previews Friday’s friendly clash between USA and Scotland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

A bumper-to-bumper weekend of International Test rugby will get underway with the USA taking on touring Scotland at Audi Field in Washington DC on Friday night.

The Scots will continue their tour of the Americas by heading South next week to face Chile before ending their July Tests with a trip to Montevideo to face Uruguay a week later.

Match preview

© Reuters

While Scotland’s victory over Canada in Ottawa last weekend might have seemed almost effortless, Gregor Townsend would have been sure not to allow any complacency to set in.

The new-look Scottish side claimed a resounding 73-12 victory, improving their all-time record against Les Rouges to 5-1, with this most recent 61-point margin of victory being the widest in the rivalry’s history.

Gregor Townsend also set a new record last weekend, handing out 10 international first caps against the Canucks, breaking the national team’s old mark of eight debuts in a single match against Tonga in 2021.

As mentioned, Townsend will not let his side get carried away with that result, though, as the last time Scotland toured this part of the world, they followed up a big win against Canada with a shocking defeat to the US in Texas.

That result marked the USA’s first victory over Tier 1 Nation since they beat France at the 1924 Olympics and came against a Scotland side that included the likes of Stuart Hogg, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, George Horne and the Fagerson brothers.

This time around, the Bravehearts will also have to deal with the heat of the US capital, with temperatures expected to be pushing above 30°C at the 18:30 local kickoff time (23:30 BST).

Cam Dolan of the U.S. reacts during the match on July 9, 2024© Reuters

Meanwhile, after closing the 2023 season with silverware in Spain, Team USA began preparation for their 2027 Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign with a clash against Romania in Chicago last weekend.

While the US had beaten the Romanians by a convincing 31-17 scoreline in August last year, this time around was a different story, as the Oaks ground out a 22-20 victory despite being reduced to 13 men by the end of the game.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, that result only added to a poor run of results over the last couple of years, during which they failed to earn a spot at last year’s World Cup, following six consecutive qualifications since 1995.

Their final chance of qualifying for the 2023 World Cup was a repechage event which ended in a 16-16 draw against Portugal, and it was the latter who qualified. That result also marked the end of Gary Gold‘s four-year tenure.

Under the guidance of Scott Lawrence, the Eagles have a record of three wins and three losses, though they did emerge victorious in the four-team La Vila International Rugby Cup in Spain last November.

While Lawrence’s side enter this match as massive underdogs, they would certainly have gained confidence from watching back reels of the last match between these sides, when they held on to a 30-29 win in Houston.

USA form (all competitions):

Scotland form (all competitions):

Team News

Scotland's Zander Fagerson and teammates react after South Africa's first try on September 10, 2023© Reuters

Lawrence is yet to announce his starting lineup for the weekend but has assembled a squad primarily composed of players from Major League Rugby, though not exclusively. Last week, the US head coach awarded a first cap to Renger van Eerten, the Dutch-born second-rower who applies his trade for Brive in the French second division.

The longstanding Bristol Bears fly-half AJ MacGinty is likely to continue to orchestrate play for the hosts from the number 10 position, while former Italy international centre Tommaso Boni, who switched allegiance last year, had an impressive outing and should feature in midfield again for the Eagles this weekend.

Townsend is clearly leaving nothing to chance here, trading in the entire starting 15 that beat Canada last week for a much more experienced squad that sees Sione Tuipulotu and Rory Darge returning to co-captain the side, with Jamie Ritchie and Kyle Steyn serving as their deputies.

Duhan van der Merwe, who is one try away from equalling Scotland’s all-time record for tries scored, also returns to the starting 15, and he will feature alongside Kyle Rowe and Kyle Steyn in Bravehearts’ back three.

USA predicted lineup: 15 Mitch Wilson, 14 Christian Dyer, 13 Tavite Lopetti, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Nate Augspuger, 10 AJ McGinty, 9 JP Smith, 8 Thomas Tu’avao, 7 Jamason Faʻanana-Schultz, 6 Sam Golla, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Renger van Eerten, 3 Paul Mullen, 2 Dylan Fawsitt, 1 Jake Turnbull

Replacements: 16 Mikey Sosene-Feagai, 17 Nate Sylvia, 18 Kaleb Geiger, 19 Viliami Helu, 20 Ben Bonasso, 21 Paddy Ryan, 22 Luke Carty, 23 Bryce Campbell

Scotland starting lineup: 15 Kyle Rowe, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. George Horne, 8. Matt Fagerson, 7. Rory Darge, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 5. Scott Cummings, 4. Alex Craig, 3. Murphy Walker, 2. Ewan Ashman, 1. Pierre Schoeman

Replacements: 16. Robbie Smith, 17. Rory Sutherland, 18. Elliot Millar Mills, 19. Max Williamson, 20. Luke Crosbie, 21. Jamie Dobie, 22. Ross Thompson, 23. Matt Currie

SM words green background

We say: USA 17-32 Scotland

Despite pulling off a sensational victory the last time these sides met, it is difficult to see the US winning this match given their blunt performance against Romania last week. Scotland, while in the midst of a rebuild, should have too much class in their ranks here and we feel they will secure victory in this match.

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