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Argentina 19-21 Scotland

Scotland Logo © SRU - used with permission

Unlike the football team, Scotland’s rugby team were making a brief appearance in South America this summer as they took the field in the sunshine of Cordoba on a Friday afternoon for a test with an Argentina side coming off two defeats by Ireland.

An untried selection from Vern Cotter had plenty to prove. Ross Ford and Nick De Luca were back from the wilderness; Cowan, (Kieran) Low, Jonny Gray and Rob Harley all had points to prove and Pete Horne had to impress after a shaky test against Canada.

Early scrum victories and good lineout takes from young captain Gilchrist – plus Ford hitting his jumpers – provided set piece hope, but there was still plenty of the scrappy handling from the off that has been a hallmark of this tour.

The Scots back three have been waiting for a centre who can pass to unleash them with the required pace and Nick De Luca is at least an actual center. After only 7 minutes he fizzed the ball out to Seymour who sprinted down the wing and shuffled it inside to Hogg who was bundled over for the first score, delight on his face. Weir converted from the touchline, and the sun was shining on Scotland.

This being Scotland, De Luca’s next act was to give the ball away. As Argentina barely had the ball in the opening ten minutes it was distinctly charitable, but gave them a chance to test Scotland’s defence that started well but grew leakier as the game wore on.

Seymour could have scored a second try had the bounce of the ball been kinder, but both sides were aiming to entertain and instead Argentina countered almost from their own line, playing patiently and coming closer to Scotland’s line until they were left with a simple 2 on 1, and Maitland wrong-footed on the wing. The conversion was missed to keep Scotland in the lead.

Maitland has been good defensively so far on tour but he was almost taken in again when slick hands from standoff Nicolas Sanchez to Amorisino found space in behind Scotland; luckily the chip ahead was overcooked. Sanchez took his chance moments later though, with an accurate if ugly drop goal.

The set piece though was a source of sustenance for Scotland, especially with Weir and Hogg playing the territory well. The second row pairing of Gray and Gilchrist were eager to carry ball in the loose and the lineout was unnaturally secure, at least by recent standards.

Despite immense pressure from the Argentinians at the breakdown they were possibly too eager to retrieve the ball and Scotland had a penalty on the stroke of half time to retake the lead. Weir missed it, so the Pumas went in ahead, just.

HT Argentina 8-7 Scotland

The second half saw the worrying trend of Argentine breakdown dominance continue, as even Nicolas Sanchez was able to trap Peter Horne and then convert the penalty he was awarded to increase the home side’s lead.

The Scots had a great chance moments later, as Seymour chipped through and Grayson Hart made a great tap tackle to pressurise Argentine full back Amorisino. Scotland turned him over and Kieran Low went close, but when it went wide the backs were not patient enough.

Argentinian pressure over the tackle was stopping Scotland from getting anything else moving and even the lineout started to creak as the Scots looked a little flustered.

They did put several impressive phases together with big carries from Gilchrist, Gray and Low – who grew into the game the more physical it got and was excellent in the lineout – but they couldn’t quite unlock the Argentinian defence close in to get over the line. Weir was at least given a penalty chance and he duly brought Scotland within a point.

Sanchez hit back straight away as Scotland conceded at the breakdown, and Argentina showed they weren’t going to fade out of this game.

Pyrgos added some fizz when he came on for the efficient Hart, but the quality of passing lessened slightly.

The spark came instead from the Argentina bench as Joaquin Tuculet showed real gas over a short distance to fly round Cowan and get past the last line of defence with a wonderful try, but again the conversion was missed.

Scotland were not totally adrift, but listing badly and taking on water.

Another nice break by Seymour shook them back into the game but when Irish referee Lacey awarded a penalty, the points were spurned by Gilchrist in the first big call of his captaincy. They needed 2 scores for the win but he opted to go for the big score first rather than an easily kickable three.

Scottish Rugby doesn’t usually do fairytales – not in the last fifteen years anyway – and so the inevitable failure to score the try (after two bites at it) may be a source of regret for the young lock, rather than the source of the inspiring victory he craved.

That looked like it was slowly creeping away with the Cordoba sunshine.

Even with a whole new front row of Reid, MacArthur and Welsh Scotland still had control in the scrum though. Even against a renowned scrummaging side like Argentina they earned Scotland another kick at goal which gave Weir a much harder penalty with ten minutes to play. He calmly slotted it to restore a little hope.

Hope turned to happiness seconds later as De Luca, who had one of his better Scotland performances, found the tiniest of gaps to squeeze Tommy Seymour through and the wing blazed down the touchline, giving Pyrgos an easy run in. The TMO checked to see if Dougie Fife had interfered with a defender but the try stood.

Agonisingly, Weir missed the kick though to make it a one point game in Argentina’s favour with 5 minutes to play.

Scrappy in defence and bullied at the breakdown, Scotland had at least dominated set-piece all game so it was fitting that an athletic lineout take by Kieran Low give them the field position for a driving maul and another penalty from Lacey.

Jeers and vuvuzelas made a racket round the stadium as Weir settled himself in front of the posts but the young flyhalf kicked it cleanly and put Scotland back into the narrowest of leads.

Argentina came back at full pace as they had all game with dominance of the restart and some lovely offloads but in the end Sanchez – arguably their best player – snatched his last-gasp drop goal wide and Scotland hung on for another tight win.

Vern Cotter: 3 from 3.

Despite this, Scotland have work to do.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Tommy Seymour – clearly out to prove that Tommy not Tim should fill the other wing slot alongside Sean and Stuart. Made ground with almost every carry and his pace was a nightmare for his opposite number. On this form, should start against South Africa.

14 Responses

  1. Missed the game. What did people think of Gilchrist and Gray Jnr? Can you see them holding their own against the Boks?

    1. Both had solid games and put in a lot of work in the tight and the loose. Not much noticeable ball carrying but their effort was definitely valuable to the cause.

  2. It was a good game end to end, with Scotland doin the usual getting into a good position then make a mistake! Seymour made the difference with his runs.

    Gilchrist and Gray did well I see no reason as to why thy shouldn’t be challenging the Boks. Gilchrsit I made some good descisions aswell just unfortunate with the kick to touch when 9 points behind to go for 7 points and would like to see the scots just keep going for 7 everytime.

  3. Putting aside the errors and sloppy play from Scots players, which i have sadly come to see as the norm, why do we always seem to get the rough end of the referee in test matches? In particular, Irish referees seem to have it in for Scotland, Rolland, Clancy, and now Lacey. It cant just be me that sees this time and time again. The old adage “play well and take the ref out of the equation” is all well and good but should we really have to put up with the rubbish we saw from Lacey on Friday?

    1. Have always felt Scotland seemed to get the wrong end of the stick with Irish refs especially Rolland

    2. I’m not sure if there is a group of rugby fans in the world who don’t think refs are out to get them. We hardly have to go through the examples – England at Cardiff 2013, NZ in Cardiff QF 2007, SA in QF 2011, Scotland in Cardiff 2010, Ireland when the Welsh scored from an illegal quick lineout etc. etc.

      The fact is that rugby is a hard game to ref that relies on a lot of subjective interpretation. Refs and TMOs are constantly inundated with new guidance and new laws that they are assessed against. For obvious reasons this does not lead to even standards and consistency.

      At the same time the professional game is eroding deference towards referees from players, coaches and fans. Personally, I think public criticism of refs should be verboten from players and coaches. Fans should agree that there are always more important things to talk about post game than referees decisions. These things have always been part of the game, the difference now is that refs are under greater scrutiny than ever and expected to reach higher standards than ever before. Respect towards refs is one of the greatest parts of the rugby ethos and I would be saddened if it was left to wither.

    3. I agree that the ref should be sacrosanct on the pitch but its only fair that we should be able to assess his performance afterwards, which i hope the Elite Refs panel do. How else will referees learn to be good referees?

      I dont believe the refs are deliberately favouring sides against Scotland but perhaps a sub-conscious bias does creep in on occasion. Nigel Owens is the benchmark and plays fair by both teams, however i cannot say the same for Clancy, Rolland and Lacey. If the tip tackle on Ross Ford had been the other way around, i suspect ford would have seen yellow. Maybe they are believing the dross written in the Papers that we are a bunch of useless duffers who can only get the ball by cheating, i dont subscribe to that view. We have players with talent, but it needs to be coached better to achieve what it is capable of. A little less “scotland won the ball, but their players are rubbish so they must have used hands in the ruck” from refs wouldnt go amiss!

    4. My comment was not abotu refs in general it was simply a statement of a feeling I have had that we tend to not get hte breaks from Irish refs

      As for refs being a protected species it is ridiculous to suggest they be immune from criticism. If they screw up people should have the right to say it in the same way they can if a player screws up

    5. Coaches have official ways to criticise refs, instead barely a game goes by without a coach giving his opinion in public to the media, pundits picking apart every decision and players on the field feeling empowered to pressure and harangue refs to influence their decision (looking at you Munster). It is becoming more like football every season where too much focus is on refereeing decisions and not the actual game to surround the sport in continual fake controversy.

      What I find most tedious is the after game ritual among fans of highlighting every decision that didn’t go their way to concoct a conspiracy against their team. The absurd thing is that this happens amongst fans of every team after almost every game. Occasionally a ref makes a clanger, usually controversial decisions are due to interpretation and are justifiable or marginal. Refs don’t need to be protected, but there is far too much attention given to them and not the players. We should accept that rugby is difficult to officiate and there are very very rarely outrageous decisions.

  4. Consipracy? Perhaps. Sour grapes? possibly but it does help that there are so many of them to wield influence.

    The move to profeassionalism co-incided with the golden generation and a period of ascendancy on Irish rugby.

    As the provinces and national team did well, so they were better placed to exert influence (IRB, HEC in Dublin). Strategic influence can help ensure continued success.

    In the 6N there is limited money to go round so if you can’t get more, you have to ensure others get less. With Scotland in a low period the opportunity for the Welsh/Irish to kick a man on the ground is tacit acknowledgement of this. Even going as far as the marginalising of Lions involvement to lesser able, but better placed Irish and Welsh candidates.

    Had the money caome in when we were relatively successful in the 80’s and 90’s (when Ireland and Wales were low) who knows what would have happened.

  5. For the past decade, eagerly anticipating the start of the Six Nations every year, i asked myself; “Is this the start of a new era and the revival of Scottish Rugby?” Hoping in their first game they would beat their opponents by at least 10 points and make a statement, but alas, it never came.

    There were victories against Australia and the Springboks, but these victories were by the boot and could have gone either way. Scotland need to do one thing; stop butchering chances. They hardly get turned over on the try line, instead the skip pass and get intercepted, or knock on.

    Saturdays game (against the Springboks) will give Vern a good indication of the depth in Scottish Rugby. The Springboks will be out to prove a point, considering the narrow defeat of Wales.

    Once again I ask myself….is this it?

  6. Squad v South Africa:

    15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 23 caps, 6 tries, 1 penalty, 33 points

    14 Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors) 12 caps, 1 try, 5 points
    13 Nick De Luca (Biarritz) 42 caps, 1 try, 5 points
    12 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
    11 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 9 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

    10 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps, 1 try, 4 conversions, 4 penalties, 1 drop-goal, 28 points
    9 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps, 2 tries, 10 points

    1 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) 35 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
    2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) 76 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
    3 Geoff Cross (London Irish) 31 caps, 1 try, 5 points
    4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) 8 caps
    5 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 7 caps, 1 try, 5 points, CAPTAIN
    6 Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors) 6 caps, 1 try, 5 points
    7 Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
    8 Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped

    Substitutes

    16 Kevin Bryce (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
    17 Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs) 28 caps
    18 Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors) 59 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
    19 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
    20 Tyrone Holmes (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
    21 Grayson Hart (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
    22 Dougie Fife (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
    23 Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps

    Could be worse give the circumstances but that pack is going to get a shellacking – non-scrummaging front row and callow back row. How good is Ashe? Not good enough to get in the Glasgow team I suppose. Hope he has a good game.

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