Scotlands Rugby League World Cup adventure continues at least for another three days.
Defeat for Italy against Tonga will send the Bravehearts through to a wholly unlikely quarter-final clash with holder New Zealand. A win for the Azzurri and rank outsider Scotland will bow out undefeated but with heads held high after yet another cracking game.
Unlike in the first two group games, when they stormed ahead only to be pinned back, the Scots needed a second-half comeback themselves to seal the win.
With Danny Brough and Peter Wallace oozing class in the halves, they took absolute control of the game.
Scotland had three tries disallowed by the video referee having had to overcome a shock minutes before the game when retiring London Broncos hooker Ben Fisher whose career ends at this tournament was carried off with a torn calf. Already without the injured Ian Henderson, it meant veteran Andrew Henderson had the hooker role all to himself.
Fisher wept and was consoled by his team-mates, including Brough, who could not hold his emotions in check during the singing of Scotland the Brave and broke down, hugging Fisher at the end as they comforted each other.
Despite being fired up by the setback, Scotland got off to a poor start with a series of needless penalties and knock-ons. The US took advantage, star man Joseph Paulo throwing a short pass for fullback Kristian Freed, who will surely not be playing in the French second division for long after this tournament, to roll over the line. To the surprise of most in the crowd, video ref Henry Perenara gave the try.
SCOTLAND v UNITED STATES HIGHLIGHTS
Scotland responded with a fabulous run by Matt Russell only for Ben Hellewell to be held up over the line.
The Bravehearts' halves moved the ball left only for left winger Alex Hurst to have a try disallowed for a forward pass by Brough.
The US had the upper hand and from a penalty, scrum-half Craig Priestlys grubber popped up for Texan winger Taylor Welch to touch down. Paulo was unsuccessful with his second successive conversion attempt, the Americans leading 8-0 after 23 minutes.
Scotland stepped up a gear and took control. In the 14 minutes before the break, Hurst was held up over the line, Brough had a magical 28th minute try ruled out by Perenara for supposed obstruction during a dazzling 30-metre slalom to the line, and Hurst was held up again after a frantic Scottish attack. It must have felt like the world was against the Bravehearts as they went in 8-0 down.
Henderson finally got a breather after 47 minutes of action, Danny Addy moving to hooker.
Fortune may have changed direction: Luke Douglas juggled a ball in the tackle, ref Thierry Alibert waved play on and Brough sent Brett Phillips over on the left after 51 minutes. Broughs conversion from out wide hit the post but it was enough to rouse the crowd.
Moments later they were in raptures as man of the match Russell got his fourth try of the tournament with a magnificent run through heavy traffic. Brough nudged Scotland 10-8 ahead.
Hurst was then denied for a fourth time, driving in to the left hand corner only to be ruled in touch by the video ref. In a rare US attack, Matt Petersen was denied a try by David Scotts tackle, the youngster from Stirling having a solid World Cup debut.
The men wearing poppies on their navy shirts and the Royal Marines' dagger on their tartan shorts were rampant, the inspirational second rower-turned-centre Dale Ferguson leading the way. Prop Douglas rumbled over from close range after a penalty on 63 minutes, Brough making it 16-8.
A series of penalties against a tired American side marched Scotland down the pitch towards Barton Bridge as the minutes ticked away while they went in search of more tries to wipe out Italys 14 points difference.
Tempers flared as the imperious Wallace was dumped by Haveatama Luani, who was put on report.
From the penalty, Brough worked the ball wide for Hurst to finally get the try his dogged display more than merited. Released by London Broncos, Hurst is without a club: incredible for a man who took 26 carries and ran 236 metres on a career-defining night. The skipper Brough swung the touchline conversion over to negate the Italians points difference on the hooter.
The result ended Mate Ma'a Tonga's hopes of winning the group. Now all eyes turn to Halifax when the Tongans take on Italy on Monday morning (NZT).
At Salford City Stadium, Salford
Scotland Bravehearts 22 (Brett Phillips, Matt Russell, Luke Douglas, Alex Hurst tries; Danny Brough 3 conversions).
United States Tomahawks 8 (Kristian Freed, Taylor Welch tries).
Referee: Thierry Alibert (France).
Scotland: Matt Russell, David Scott, Danny Addy, Ben Hellewell, Alex Hurst, Danny Brough, Peter Wallace, Adam Walker, Andrew Henderson, Luke Douglas, Brett Phillips, Dale Ferguson, Ben Kavanagh. Subs: Mitchell Stringer, Oliver Wilkes, Alex Szostak, Sam Barlow.
United States: Kristian Freed, Bureta Faraimo, Taylor Welch, Michael Garvey, Matt Petersen, Joseph Paulo, Craig Priestly, Mark Offerdahl, Tuisegasega Samoa, Eddy Pettybourne, Clint Newton, Matt Shipway, Daniel Howard. Subs: David Marando, Roman Hifo, Haveatama Luani, Judah Lavulo.