|Summer tour: USA v Scotland|
|USA (13) 30|
|Tries: Taufete’e 2, Germishuys Cons: MacGinty3 Pens: MacGinty 3|
|Scotland (24) 29|
|Tries: Kinghorn, penalty try, Turner, Fife Cons: Kinghorn 2 Pen: Kinghorn|
Blair Kinghorn missed a last-gasp kick for victory as the USA claimed a first win over Scotland.
Scotland led through Kinghorn’s early try, but after that they found the United States tough to deal with.
Samu Manoa’s sin-binning was followed by a penalty try and one from George Turner, but two from Joe Taufete’e and one from Hanco Germishuys gave the USA a deserved lead.
Dougie Fife scored in time added on, but Kinghorn could not convert.
Scotland had never lost to the USA before. Heading into this one there had been five official Tests and an unofficial international match and Scotland had won the lot.
In the stifling heat of Houston, Scotland made a blistering start and there was a certain inevitability about the inspiration behind the opening try which flew in after just 59 seconds. Captain for the night Stuart Hogg saw a gap and darted through it, then drew his man and put it on a plate for Kinghorn. The wing converted to put Scotland on the front foot before the USA knew what was happening.
The hosts had won five in a row coming into this. They weren’t exactly beating up world rugby’s big guns, but they had confidence and they had bulk, and in their fly-half, AJ MacGinty, they had a clever leader. MacGinty made it 7-3 with the boot as USA found their feet.
Their ball-carriers started to punch holes. Nobody punched as heavily as Taufete’e – their battering ram of a hooker – who got on the ball and caused Scotland problems. Cam Dolan wasn’t far behind. Orchestrating the whole shooting match was MacGinty who was wonderful.
A huge call went against the hosts midway through the opening half when Peter Horne spun through a tackle inside the USA’s 22 and put his younger brother George through at the posts. Manoa hit him high and got binned. Wayne Barnes double-downed on the punishment by giving the penalty try. It was contentious. The home team looked to have another defender tracking Horne.
MacGinty narrowed it to 14-6 while Manoa was off, but America felt his loss when Scotland scored again and once more it was the lineout maul that did the damage. Turner got a hat-trick from driven lineouts against the Canadians and he got another score here. That’s four tries in a total of 85 minutes for the hooker. It put him on an all-time try-scoring par for a hooker with Gordon Bulloch and Ross Ford. Those two took a damn sight longer than 85 minutes to amass their collection.
Kinghorn’s conversion made it 21-6 to Scotland and at the time it looked like a lead they were likely to add to. Instead, USA started launching their ball-carriers and with a lot more accuracy and they got their rewards.
Just before the break, big Taufete’e thundered his way over from close range and just after the break, following a lineout maul of their own, it was big Joe again who did the damage. He peeled off the back and went for glory, bumping Turner and Luke Hamilton and then dragging Zander Fagerson and George Horne with him over the line. You could have constructed a wall of reinforced concrete and the hooker would have comfortably taken that out as well on his way to the line.
The excellent MacGinty took care of the conversion and then added a penalty and suddenly it was a one-point game.
Scotland became a mess. They ran the gamut of mistakes and exerted zero control at half-back. This was a rough night for Adam Hastings on his first Scotland start, but Hastings wasn’t the only one struggling to get a grip out there. Collectively, they started to sink in the face of American passion and American pressure.
On the hour, the USA hit the front and again it was MacGinty who was at the heart of it. He put up a garryowen that Matt Fagerson dealt with calamitously, missing the high ball and allowing the advancing MacGinty to gather and ship it on to openside Germishuys to score in the corner. The fly-half’s extras made it 30-24 and a stunning victory loomed large on the Houston horizon.
Townsend took off some of his tyros and got experience on to the park for the salvation job, but USA were heroic when they needed to be.
MacGinty made a key tackle on Tim Swinson on the right touchline as the lock was building up a head of steam approaching the five-metre line, then Shaun Davies, the scrum-half, did sensationally well to deny Mark Bennett on a crash ball. Bennett went over the try-line but Davies did enough to loosen the ball from his grip as he tried to get it down.
The Scots spent the last 10 minutes more or less camped in the host’s half and set up a breathless finale with Hastings floating a sweet skip-pass to Fife who went over in the left corner with 84 minutes on the clock. At 30-29 it all fell to Kinghorn to land the conversion to steal it, but from far out on the wing he couldn’t nail it.
USA basked in the moment and they deserved to. What a moment for them; a first win against a tier one country. A wretched night for the Scots, but a momentous occasion for the brilliant MacGinty and the team he inspires.
USA: Hooley, Scully, Campbell, Lasike, Brache, MacGinty, Davies; Fry, Taufete’e, Mullen, Manoa, Civetta, Quill, Germishuys, Dolan.
Replacements: Fawsitt, Lamositele, Baumann, Peterson, Landry, Augspurger, Magie, Audsley.
Scotland: Hogg, Kinghorn, Grigg, P Horne, McGuigan, Hastings, G Horne, Bhatti, Turner, Z Fagerson, Carmichael, Toolis, Swinson, Hamilton, M Fagerson.
Replacements: Brown, Dell, McCallum, Gilchrist, Denton, Hidalgo-Clyne, Bennett, Fife.