Argentina 16 – 24 Scotland
For once in recent Scottish rugby memory we are greeted – nay, even rewarded – by a final scoreline that reflects the actual game that preceded it. Based on the way they played, Scotland should have been the only team that won this match, although time has taught us this doesn’t always mean they would have. The game in Tucuman was a fiercely contested test match in front of a partisan crowd, but for large chunks of the game only one side was playing any rugby, and I am happy to report that side was Scotland!
Luckily the game was broadcast live on BBC Scotland – refreshing to see a Scottish summer tour on the TV – and perhaps the players knew they would have to put on a show for the folks watching back home rather than just slinking off and relying on the odd syndicated news report to paper over any cracks in their performance.
After a wobbly opening period in which the desire to entertain seemed to overcome a desire to be sensible and Argentina were gifted an easy try, Scotland settled down and despite losing another well worked but iffy try (both of em were debatable, if I’m honest), Dan Parks was keeping Scotland in the game through penalties. But it wasn’t all about Parks’ boot on Saturday, he played very flat off a zipping service from Rory Lawson, brought his backline into the game with alarming regularity and I even saw him making a tackle in his 10 channel once! This allowed the likes of De Luca, Evans and Lamont plenty of quick ball to play with and they repeatedly made inroads into the Argentina defence and kept the pressure on through powerful running and (mostly) well-timed offloads. It got a bit hairy towards the end but when Argentina fell foul of Dave Pearson (as they did), Parks was on hand to scoop up the points and keep Scotland in the lead.
Next week should see a largely unchanged starting line-up with no injury-related substitutions being made that I remember. Lawson has surely earned his starting slot regardless of Cusiter’s fitness, although Blair’s place on the bench could be in doubt. De Luca also had probably his best game in attack and defence, and the front row held their own in the scrum as the game went on. Hines was missed a bit in the second row when they looked to throw the ball about but the back row did their thing admirably so I can’t thing of anyone who merits being dropped – and that’s the first time I have said that in a long time!
While the mission for next week will undoubtedly be to clinch a test series in the Southern Hemisphere (and I think I read somewhere they would be the first Scotland team to do so), some tries would be nice, as they were definitely on the table on Saturday and some more carefully timed passing could probably see the Scots win comfortably. However I will not underestimate Argentina who will be extremely fired up, one would imagine, and Scotland should not do so either.
PS I apologise for the bad title, been playing too much Red Dead Redemption!