Scotland kept its quarterfinal hopes alive in the Rugby League World Cup by bringing a tired United States back to earth in a 22-8 win today.
The U.S. had already reached the last eight, and the pressure was on Scotland. It rallied from 8-0 down after 51 minutes with four unanswered tries. The Scots have a temporary hold on the quarterfinal berth in Group C as the leader, but can be overtaken by Italy if the latter beats Tonga on Sunday. Tonga's hopes were snuffed out by Scotland's second win of the tournament.
The Americans had won five matches in a row, including upsets of France before their first World Cup, and the Cook Islands and co-host Wales in the tournament. But a third group match in nine days proved a match too far. At least they have nine days until their quarterfinal, against probably Australia.
The Scots were playing their third match in 10 days, and were a little more desperate. But they had a devil of a time scoring.
Captain Joseph Paulo put fullback Kristian Freed in a gap for the Americans' first try, and their other playmaker, Craig Preistly, put in a grubber for winger Taylor Welch to pounce on in the first 23 minutes.
Meanwhile, Scotland winger Ben Hellewell was held up over the line and his counterpart on the left, Alex Hurst, was even more unlucky. Hurst had a try ruled out for a forward pass, and was twice held up in the first half.
Danny Brough also had a try ruled out on video review for obstruction.
The U.S. defence finally broke in the 51st, when Brough put second-rower Brett Phillips in a gap. Three minutes later, Matthew Russell cut back and angled in. With Scotland leading 10-8, David Scott made a try-saving tackle on U.S. opposite Matthew Petersen.
Prop Luke Douglas scored a soft third try for Scotland, and Hurst finally dotted down in the 79th thanks to a big miss-out pass from Brough, who converted from the left sideline, his third goal from four attempts.
Tomorrow, New Zealand plays Papua New Guinea.