At half time in the Scotland v USA game at Elland Road, a comment was made that ‘looks like we will all be supporting Wales in the quarter finals!’ At that point with Scotland trailing 13-6, they had a point. Scotland turned it round in the second half with five tries and a bonus point that never looked possible in the first 40 minutes. While the first half there was many unforced errors, the second half everything stuck, and the defence again held strong. What was said by Vern Cotter will stay behind the changing room door, but what happened on the pitch in the first 13 minutes of the second half was a tactical change. This is where Cotter and his coaching staff came into their own. Rather than moving the ball wide (which was shepherded well by the US’s drift defence), the centres were stepping inside of 1st and 2nd phase ball giving the go forward that led to 2 of the three tries. Along with cutting down on unforced errors, this change set the platform for a one-sided half. So Scotland go into the crunch with South Africa with a full complement of points, which allows for some leeway especially with Samoa not getting a bonus point against SA or USA.
Talking of bonus points, what an error by England and Chris Robshaw! It’s been discussed to death, but England would have still been in the driving seat with a draw against Wales as they had the bonus point against Fiji, which Australia didn’t achieve and Wales subsequently missed out on. Why Robshaw went for the win, only he will know. Not just the fact it would have given England an extra point, it would have denied Wales the two extra points they got for victory. While beating Australia would always have been desired, the fact that Wales and Australia still have to play each other, a draw followed by defeat to Australia may not have been disastrous. So it is win at all costs for England on Saturday. I don’t know which way it will go, but if I had to pick, I would go for England, just.