Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 19-16 Argentina

[Edinburgh, UK. November 19, 2016] Finn Russell collects a high ball during Scotland vs Argentina in the Autumn Test at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. (c) ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography Photo Credit: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Scotland recorded a last-gasp win over Argentina in dramatic fashion at BT Murrayfield this evening.

Greig Laidlaw kicked the winning penalty – his fourth of the game – with the clock well past the 80-minute mark to secure a dramatic victory.

The captain’s 14 points were added to by a second-half try from Sean Maitland, giving Vern Cotter’s side back-to-back home victories over Argentina.

The Scots came out firing, and just two minutes in, skipper Laidlaw opened the scoring with his first penalty after Argentina infringed at a ruck. The Scotland captain knocked over the 30-metre penalty following a superb kick-and-chase from half-back colleague Finn Russell.

A scrappy 10 minutes ensued thereafter, with scrums aplenty, but Scotland enjoyed the majority of possession inside the Argentina half.

Martin Landajo looked the visitors’ biggest threat in the opening quarter, making two breaks from quickly-taken penalties, but Tommy Seymour was on hand to deny the scrum-half.

Laidlaw was then handed a chance to double the Scotland lead after Argentina were penalised at the scrum. The captain, winning his 55th cap, duly landed his second penalty of the opening half hour to make it 6-0.

The Pumas then burst into life, as a superb move took them up to, but not over, the Scottish line. Referee Ben O’Keeffe then awarded the visitors a penalty on the line, and they turned down a three-point chance in favour of a scrum.

A second penalty followed, but superb work from John Barclay won the ball back, and Laidlaw hacked to safety.

A scrappy opening 40 minutes concluded with the first points for the Pumas, as stand-off Nicolas Sanchez belted over a long-range penalty after Hamish Watson was penalised at the ruck.

Half-time: Scotland 6-3 Argentina

Argentina started brightly, and won a penalty after good work from their pack. From inside the Scotland 22, Sanchez landed his second kick of the game to level the scores on 44 minutes.

Scotland started slowly, and the visitors capitalised a second time as a superb cross-kick from Juan Martin Hernandez found centre colleague Matias Orlando, who bulldozed over Stuart Hogg to score.

Sanchez added the conversion, and after an encouraging opening 40 minutes, Scotland found themselves 6-13 down.

A moment of magic propelled Scotland back into the match – that man Huw Jones again to the fore as a superb run, and offload, allowed Sean Maitland to dive over out wide.

The Scots had won position after the Pumas gave away a penalty, and a strong maul laid the platform for Maitland’s fourth Test try.

Laidlaw converted to lift the crowd, and level the scores at 13-all, but the Scots were not having it all their own way – not by a long stretch. To prove that point the visitors re-took the lead on 62 minutes, after a marauding scrum had replacement Moray Low, who entered the fray for Fagerson 10 minutes previously, in reverse.

The Scottish response was immediate, with four minutes of pressure and possession almost exclusively in the Argentina 22, which eventually yielded a penalty.

Laidlaw once again made no mistake to level the scores once more as fellow Borderer Ross Ford entered the fray at hooker.

Russell pushed a drop-goal attempt wide with eight minutes left, but all the action remained in the Pumas half.

A lovely weighted kick from Hogg forced the visitors to run the ball out, and after O’Keeffe deemed the visitors had pulled down the maul, up stepped Laidlaw, but his effort – for the second week in a row – cannoned off the post.

Of course, the drama was far from over, and the hosts continued to press for the win, and got their reward when Juan Manuel Leguizamon was penalised in injury time, allowing Laidlaw an opportunity to make amends and secure victory.

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)

SRBlog Man of the Match: John Barclay, rapidly becoming a stalwart of this pack. As usual Jonny Gray ran him close, with Hamish Watson also scrapping hard.


24 Responses

    1. He is frustrating. Place kicks well but crabbing across then passing at every ruck is dreadfully annoying.

      Hopefully Price will get some match time next week.

    2. Have you ever seen a worse scrum half performance in history, apart from his kicking what does he offer us.
      Slow loopy and inaccurate pass, about 5 steps sideways before passing and worst of all the delay of 3 or 4 seconds which achieves nothing but to allow the opposition time to set themselves.
      Even with him starting why doesn’t Cotter replace him around the 60min mark as all other coaches do.

      I would love to see Price and Pyrgos play in the Six Nations.

      Also on another note what was all his stupid aggression about today, it was frankly embarrassing and Dan Biggar esque.

    3. scotland have a style of controlled play that he is executing. He doesn’t have the sniping scrum half option as much as others, but he definitely leads the team and we miss him when he isn’t on the pitch. He had a good performance today.

    4. You lot really need to give the guy a break, he is our best SH at the moment. Most of the ball we have had was slowed down by the argies diving straight onto the ball off their feet. Ref didn’t police it well. Our pack don’t generate much quick ball. It would be irresponsible for a 9 to start trying to rush things in order to turn slow ball into quick ball. That leads to chaos and we wouldn’t win that battle. Laidlaw plays quick when its on. He has the experience to know when that is. Obvious example was midway through second half when we gained the penalty advantage and our attack burst into life with the help of Laidlaws service. No doubt he plays 80 mins as BVC knows he is head and shoulders above the rest, i trust his judgement far more than a bunch of internet commentators.

  1. Good to see Maitland on the scoresheet… he has had his critics and doubters, he is a silky player and sometimes fails to deliver.
    Looks like he rejuvenated at Saracens after a drop of form with LI.
    Otherwise dissapointed with the performance…. delighted with the result.
    Not impressed by Huw JONES’s replacement, that guy has class written all over him…
    Hope to see Cornell Du Preez start or feature against Georgia…

  2. On Laidlaw: Yes he provides some leadership but I believe he restricts the effectiveness of the backs hugely. The time given to international defences to set and then launch by his slow action and slow pass are only rescued by Finn’s comfort in tight spaces. The number of looped passes today that killed momentum or space made a huge difference to the team’s effectiveness going forward. Was I the only one who noticed that Vern did not take the opportuity to commend Laidlaw that Sonia McClouchlin fed him. Surely we have to move forward now.

    1. I know what you are saying about speed but I am not sure it is laidlaw that is the issue. Quick ball, presented well and good offloading are what get it moving and create the opportunity for quick scrum half play. There was very little of that, it seemed to me that the players were being encouraged to hang onto the ball.

      1. Scottish scrum has been a pretty good penalty generating machine with our first choice front row & given us go forward. Obviously going to suffer without Dicko & WP yet we still ground out a win, hitting back quickly after Argentina’s try; good result against team ranked higher than we were before KO. Back row put in a strong shift and promising debut from Bradbury. Just need to stop giving the ball away when going forward – other matches will see us punished if we’re not more clinical. BTW, what the hell has happened to Ryan Grant, once Lions material & now struggling to find any kind of form when we really need some back-up in the front three.

  3. Tough gig for young Fagerson today, but we need to build depth at tighthead after Nel. Experience of playing against that Arg front row would have done him the world of good, hopefully he can take that experience and kick on, what is he 20 years old?

  4. A Test that, in the same position of chasing the game with 15 or so to go, we would have lost a year or more ago. A definite upping of intensity and precision in that final period against a tough as teak opposition. Not at all like last week’s performance, but a dogged win against a very good side. I know Jonny Gray got motm, and deservedly, but Hamish Watson was imho outstanding this evening.

  5. With Hardie, Nel, Dickinson Du Preez, R.Gray, Taylor, Strauss (7 of our best players) that was an excellent victory.

    Agree with the above re Laidlaw, he does not suit the style we endeavour to play.

  6. Much as Laidlaw was dire on the first half he was better in the second. I think part of his issue was that the ball was slow coming out of the rucks and their defence got set far faster than our attack got into position.

    Bradbury looked good I thought and Wilson was good when he came on. Barclay and Watson were also excellent. With Hardie, Strauss and CdP that is some selection headache for the coaches!

    Gray and Gilchrist both looked good today.

    Set piece was poor. Losing a 5m attacking line out is unforgivable!

    Defence was mostly very solid. So was Argentina’s which is why our attack was not as fluid as against Australia.

    Can we please practice dropping goals!! If Finn gets a chance against Georgia for a drop goal I think he should have a pop just to get in the habit.

    Good to have Seymour back! You do wonder if it had been him rather than Visser on the wing against Oz…

    Well done boys, lets see a good win against Georgia and then a clean sweep at home in the 6N!

  7. Criticism of Laidlaw is a bit over the top. Argentina made a total mess of our breakdown, they were massively physical and streetwise (very much like the Irish pack actually) and our forwards struggled to present quick, clean ball. In that situation, our SH is always going to struggle. It was a poor performance from him but there isn’t another Scottish scrum-half close to him in terms of ability to influence test matches. I think Price does need to get game time so we have viable back up but it would have been ridiculous to put him on to try to close out that game.

    Overall it was a bit of a grim game but too many people had misconceptions that the Argies would be a bit of a pushover when they’ve spent the past four years going toe-to-toe with the SH giants. This was an ugly, but immensely valuable win. What a player Jonny is and what a find Jones is.

  8. Looking at the game as a whole, I totally agree with FF, since when did not rolling away from the ruck become legal. There were Argentine bodies everywhere at the breakdown. Although a scrappy game it shows great progress as the Scotland of a couple years ago would never of been able to comeback into a game like that against good southern hemisphere opponents.

  9. Agree that Laidlaw criticism is a bit over the top. Not a word from the Laidlaw detractors about his nerve in putting over that penalty. If it had been Wilkinson in England the knighthoods would have been out.
    I’m by no means blind to his faults – his passing is rubber wristed, short by international standards ( Russell should have been 10 yards further back for his DG but Laidlaw hasn’t the length of pass ) and not always terribly accurate. But whenever Cotter has tried anyone else ( Pyrgos in Japan for example ) Laidlaw has had to come on to bail us out.

    Not helped that the ref just didn’t deal with Argentina at the breakdown, although in fairness to O’Keeffe we could still be playing now and Lacey wouldn’t have given us a penalty shot to win a game. Whisper it but it was a call I’d have been seriously unhappy with if it had gone against Scotland.

    Laidlaw has an odd relationship with Scottish fans as evidenced in this thread. Anyone who’s been to see him play for Glaws knows their fans think he’s absolutely the dogs proverbials. And if he’s so slow etc etc how come Clermont Auvergne will pay big euros for him ?

    I don’t think anyone is seriously pressing Laidlaw now that SH-C has gone so far backwards. I’m guessing Pyrgos if fit or Price will start against Georgia – let’s see how that goes and revisit the subject !

  10. Fairly grim viewing, but an impotant win. Getting a bit sick of the negativity of some Scottish ‘supporters’ who seem to get more from berating our players than getting behind the team. The miserable pair behind me spent the entire match labelling most of the team as crap, unless you were a current glasgow player, any error by whom seemed to be overlooked. Honestly if you only watch rugby as an outlet for your own moany negativity, just stay at home.

  11. Was at the match and have since watched it again on TV. Thought the youngsters and new caps did fantastically well in the circumstances and they’re learning how to win. Many of this team could be with us in 5/6/7 years.

    Would agree with most of what’s said about Laidlaw. He truly is a dichotomy. I thought he had a shocker in the first half but tightened it up a bit in the second. Even then, his service is still far too slow for the kind of game we want to play. However, until we get one of our ‘first picks’ (Finn / Hogg / Johnny :-)) trained up as an 80%+ kicker he’s always getting the shirt.

    Was furious with some of the calls O’Keefe made when I was at the game. Having watched it on TV I’m a little more relaxed. I think he got most of the calls against us right. Where I think he fell down was allowing the Argentinians the time to milk the scrums for a penalty where he should have been telling them to ‘use it’ and they got a way with blue murder lying around at the breakdown.

    Finally, I’m not a huge Maitland fan but I think it was him the secured possession for us when Laidlaw’s penalty hit the post on 78 mins with a great diving juggle and catch. Do I have that right? Anyone else see it?

    Either way, we’re learning to win and that’s a good start.

    1. I also thought he should have been a lot quicker to call ‘use it’ in the scrum. Once the ball has gone to the back, get it out. Otherwise it’s just penalty milking and there were two or three (at least) occasions where the scrum was well set, with the ball at the back ready to be played, but the Argentines just kept it there until a penalty was won through an inevitable collapse at the front. Not good for the game and it should be more generally enforced.

      1. World Rugby should be instructing referees to not give penalties if the ball is playable at the rear of the scrum. The scrum is a method for restarting the game – it is not, and should not be, a method of gaining penalties.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion