By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 7/11/13
The USA’s dream run continues as Scotland aim to keep their campaign afloat.
The Tomahawks are the toast of the rugby league world after upsetting France before the World Cup and then recording famous victories over the Cook Islands and Wales. They have been getting great media coverage, both in the UK and around the world, and are set to take on the giants of Australia in the quarter-finals. Before that, they have the small matter of Scotland.
The Bravehearts, after a close win over Tonga and a thrilling draw with Italy, must win this game to stay alive and reach the quarter-finals. Like the Americans, the Scottish have also caught the imagination, particularly at home, after two very spirited performances.
They need one more to overthrow the massive momentum the Tomahawks are riding. The USA are assured of a place in the next stage so there is some thought that they may rest some players and look to avoid injuries before tackling the Kangaroos.
These seems somewhat unlikely. The Yanks are on a great run and have found a successful formula, why change it? Winning is infectious and surely they will want to face Australia in the best frame of mind as possible.
For Scotland they need another huge match. They were heroic against the Tongans and brave against the Azzurri. In this one they need the same and to pair it with a water-tight defence.
The Bravehearts’ last two games have been at Workington in Cumbria, ensuring they are backed by great support. This match is being staged at the Salford City Stadium in Manchester, home to Super League’s Salford Reds.
This should mean the crowd support might be more split more evenly between the two teams, particularly as the USA’s underdog journey is hard not to get excited about.
Salford is a rugby league area that is undergoing a ‘Red Revolution’ thanks to ambitious and charismatic new owner Dr Marwan Koukash. The fans in the area are getting excited about next season and a generous amount of them should be on hand for Scotland vs USA. The venue is a new and small stadium of 12,000, and it should go close to be full for this final group game.
The romanticism of the American story against the dreams of the Celts. What a selling point. This should be another fascinating World Cup clash that is hard to predict. Again the halves of both teams will be key, particularly Joseph Paulo for the Tomahawks and Danny Brough for the Scots.
Paulo has been one of the best players in the tournament, a focal point of all the Americans’ attack, so if the Bravehearts can nullify him they will win the match. With the pressure off the USA in this one, I think Scotland just might edge it by two points. Matty Russell has been electric and Brough and playmaking partner Peter Wallace are getting better as duo with each game. With the likes of Mitch Stringer off the bench, I believe the Scots will have enough passion, desire and imagination with the ball in their hands to break through the American wall and potentially book their own passage to a epic quarter-final in Leeds.