Preview: USA v Scotland

Date published: June 15 2018

Scotland face off against USA in the second of their summer tour Test matches at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on Saturday.

Stuart Hogg will captain a Scotland starting XV that features 10 Glasgow players including two debutants – Warriors pair Matt Fagerson (back-row) and George Horne (scrum-half) – both of whom will make their first international appearances alongside elder brothers Zander and Pete.

With the majority of the group used to playing with each other week in and week out, it should help with the cohesion and chemistry in the team.

The platform for last week’s 48-10 win over Canada in Edmonton was laid by a dominant forward pack, with the driving maul the primary method of attack for the Scots.

Such was their dominance in this area of the game that George Turner would go over for his hat-trick at the back of the rolling maul on three occasions, on as a second-half replacement at hooker.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has said that it was a deliberate ploy to select Edinburgh players in one match and the Glasgow contingent in the other.

“We always planned to play as much of the squad as possible on this tour, and we also deliberately picked more Edinburgh players in the first game because their season finished earlier,” he revealed.

“Now we welcome most of the Glasgow Warriors contingent into the team. On top of that there are seven players making their first starts for the country, which is really exciting, and we are looking forward to them going out and grabbing this opportunity.

“The USA have won their last six games and scored a lot of points in the process. They’ve beaten two teams that have already qualified for the Rugby World Cup – Uruguay and Russia – and put 60 points on both of them. They are definitely improving as a team and are playing with a lot of confidence.

“You can see in the way they attack and defend that they are well coached, added to which there are some exceptional individuals that offer running threats throughout their side, so this will be a real test for us on Saturday.”

Players to watch:

For USA: One of the most under-rated players in the game, AJ MacGinty will, as always, be crucial to the USA’s hopes of causing a major shock on Saturday. The Sale Sharks playmaker rarely has an under-par match and alongside Samu Manoa, is the fulcrum of the Eagles side. If those two can shine, USA stand half a chance.

For Scotland: Keep an eye out for the free-scoring George Horne on debut. The nippy scrum-half gets to the base of the ruck quickly and has crisp distribution. There is so much depth at scrum-half in Scotland right now so every playing chance must be taken if they are to nail down a squad spot.

Head-to-head: After scoring two tries last week against Russia, Marcel Brache will be eager to build on that form against the Scots. The Force finisher goes up against one of Scotland’s most promising talents in Blair Kinghorn in what should be an intriguing contest.

Previous results:

2015: Scotland won 39-18 in Leeds
2014: Scotland won 24-6 in Houston
2003: Scotland won 39-15 in Brisbane
2002: Scotland won 65-23 in San Francisco
2000: Scotland won 53-6 at Murrayfield

Prediction: No shocks here as we expect the visitors to prove too strong. Scotland by 20.

The teams:

USA: 15 Will Hooley, 14 Blaine Scully (c), 13 Bryce Campbell, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Shaun Davies, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Hanco Germishuys, 6 John Quill, 5 Nick Civetta, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Paul Mullen, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Eric Fry
Replacements: 16 Dylan Fawsitt, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Ben Landry, 21 Nate Augspurger, 22 Will Magie, 23 Dylan Audsley

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (c), 14 Blair Kinghorn, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Tim Swinson, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 David Denton, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Dougie Fife

Date: Saturday, June 16
Venue: Compass Stadium, Houston
Kick-off: 20:00 local (02:00 BST, 01:00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Television match official: David Grashoff (England)