Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Argentina 15-44 Scotland

Argentina v Scotland
© Scottish Rugby Blog

Argentina are in a tricky position, with the same team of players being coached by two different sets of coaches either as the Jaguares or Los Pumas. Daniel Hourcade elicited wonders from them in the 2015 World Cup but since then they have become largely a pale imitation – at least in the blue and white – and this was his last game in charge.

None of which will have concerned Gregor Townsend much, who was hoping for an imposing final test on foreign soil for his inexperienced side to overcome, after defeat to the USA Eagles last weekend.

And so it was that Scotland finished off their North American adventure with a resounding victory over an Argentina side in a two-way tie with their footballing equivalent in the weekly “Wow, they really were even crapper than I thought” award.

The young-gun pairing of Adam Hastings and Pete Horne got Scotland off to an electric start. A Hastings cross-field kick stretched the Argentinian defence and ended back up in Scottish hands, and a few phases later Hastings had broken free with the ball in hand, he found Horne on his inside shoulder and Horne the Younger crossed the line with barely 75 seconds gone.

The restart was reclaimed by Scotland but at a price: Tim Swinson, restored to his natural position of lock after last week’s move to blindside flanker, twisted his knee as he landed from a lift. Swinson was quickly replaced by Toolis, to set up an all-Edinburgh engine room.

Scotland extended their lead with another magnificent try inside ten minutes. Having regained possession at a scrum inside their own half, they took the ball through multiple phases, George Horne always present to move the ball quickly from the breakdown, until Nick Grigg dummied and broke clear around the half-way line. Grigg moved into the Argentina 22 with a mazy run before passing left to Kinghorn. A man his own size might have struggled with the height of Grigg’s pass but the lanky winger was straight under the sticks again and Pete Horne had another easy conversion.

Los Pumas next attempt at attacking was easily rebuffed, Bradbury eventually winning a turnover penalty which Hogg kicked to touch. Tour captain McInally’s line-out was taken by Denton, Fraser Brown, no stranger to the back of a maul, dished it back to Rambo, who ran an arcing line to burst through Sanchez’s weak tackle for Scotland’s third score. The dishevelled Argentinian side were showing no signs of giving departing coach Daniel Hourcade a happy send-off.

Sanchez’s 18th minute penalty reduced the deficit, but after a brilliant, high-hanging restart by Hogg, Scotland kept the pressure on as the recently arrived rain lashed down.

Sensibly in the conditions Hastings kicked deep into to touch, Argentina spilled the line-out, and after Brown’s initial burst to within metres of the try-line, a series of pick-and-goes resulted in Bradbury crossing for a fourth try; not even 21 minutes on the clock.

Scotland were unlucky not to further embarrass their hosts again shortly afterwards as Hastings chipped over the top and re-gathered to go deep into Argentina territory. Mini-Horne was again on hand to keep the attack going, and only a knock-on by Brown as he tried to gather Berghan’s looped overhead “pass” a metre from the try-line prevented what would have been a magnificent team score.

Peter Horne extended the lead by 3 through a penalty, then Argentina messed up an attacking line-out 5m from Scotland’s line and just to really rub salt into their wounds, Scotland drove the formidable Argentine pack backwards and up, to win a penalty at the resultant scrum and clear the danger.

Scotland again showed their dynamic countering threat for their fourth try just before half time, which ended with a glorious second try for Horne-ito. It all began with a Fraser Brown’s turnover – excellent over the breakdown all day as intended – the livewire Horne tapped the penalty and sent Hogg careering away. Argentina conceded another penalty when trying their own jackal at the ruck, Scotland’s line-out maul was then illegally stopped just short of the line, so with a free play, Horne dinked a chip over the top, Adam Hastings went full-Space Jam and tapped it back to his half-back partner, who dived in at the corner for his second.

After the disappointment of last week, under the threatening shadow of Rookie the Eagle, Scotland were playing some terrific, high-tempo, and critically: low-error rugby.

Half-time: Argentina 3 – 36 Scotland

The second-half started in the same vein, the Horne and Hastings Jr combo taking the game to their opponents and probing their defensive line, but with no increase to the score, and it was Argentina who were first to trouble the board when a pin-balling line-out, fell kindly for flanker Lezana to score from unmissable range.

Although Argentina were much better in the second half, as the rain eased slightly Scotland didn’t stop attacking. Again they pressed, and after a training ground scrum move, Dougie Fife waltzed over from Hogg’s ultra-wide pass. It was now 41-10 in only the 56thmin, game-console scoring on the supposed hardest game of the tour.

Seconds later, Argentine a fired back when Gonzalez Iglesias charged over the try-line from close range, and that was the last score of the test for the home side.

Horne, the older one, added another penalty which was the last from the visitors. In the final twenty minutes, more changes were made, such as scrum-half Horne being replaced by Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, and captain McInally, on a hard-grafting, hard-charging return, taking a seat in place of this tour’s try-machine, George Turner.

With the game over as a contest from early on, the rain back to “chucking it doon” status and a raft of replacements, both sides had forays into their opponents’ territory but with no real threat, and Scotland easily saw the rest of the game out for a hugely convincing and confidence boosting win. Argentina were a defensive shambles, showing very little of their trademark forward aggression or free-wheeling back play.

For Gregor Townsend and Scotland the tour ends with two easy wins and one loss, but perhaps not in the order we would have thought.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)

SRBlog Man of the Match: After being properly let off the leash this week, the 9-10 combination of Adam Hastings and the terrifyingly good George Horne, really tore Argentina to shreds with their speed of play, and the young scrum-half continued to show that he is a genuine contender for a starting spot.

50 Responses

  1. Good first half, not so good second half. G Horne excellent. Hastings very good. Kinghorn very good. Denton and Grigg better than expected.

    Well done boys, enjoy your break before preseason. We all have high expectations for next season and the RWC!

  2. Player ratings. Hogg 7 Fife 6 Grigg 6.5 Horne6.5 Kinghorn6 for the try he conceded Hastings 7 Horne8 Denton6 Brown6.5 Bradbury 7 Gilchrist 6.5 Toolis6.5 Berghan 6.5 McInally 8 Dell 6.5

    1. Why did Denton get a 6 ? i cant remember anything he done worse than the others and gave vital go-Forward

      1. He got a 6 for some bad restarts not only player guilty and he needs to learn to offload better as this is the game tonny wants us to play I do agree he can carry well but is a bit one dimensional.

    2. If you watch Denton, he can’t off-load because of the way he goes at other players. Rather than dip the shoulder and go into the other player that way, thus being free to off-load he wraps both hands around the ball over his chest and runs at them full frontal. He can break a tackle but makes it difficult to off-load and easier to get wrapped up by opponents. Needs to change that approach first!

      1. Denton is an athlete not a rugby player. That said as a former prop who had to be coached into a more offloading game, it aint that hard to do. He is a blunt instrument who has played under some good coaches (and some poor ones) but seems unable to adapt his game. Yes he currently is one of the best we have but he really isn’t a good rugby player. Strauss has shown he can do exactly what we need (see French performance) and he has been in great offloading and penetrating form for Sharks. Surely its easier to coach a player into doing more of what we have seen them do previously that coaching Denton into demonstrating a skill he clearly lacks? Maybe in being naive. Fagerson also really needs to bulk up, he had the look of Sam Simmons in the 6 nations, unable to make the same impact at international level as club level due to physical limitations. One would assume this has been identified given that he is still a kid! When fully fit we have a helluva squad developing with a strong spine. 2 great hookers with a 3rd very exciting prospect, Lions quality 1st choice locks, weaker at 9 but not too shabby behind Greig, increasing depth behind Finn, 3 players who can play 15 well (1 world class). Number 8 is the glaring omission. I dont think we have an 8 currently who I would consider to be an excellent domestic level performer let alone international (Fagerson clearly has potential). Only way I see 8 being fixed by RWC is if a qualified foreigner is unearthed.

      2. On the flip side, I would imagine it is a lot easier to coach basic skills than it is to coach attitude in a player. For all his flaws in terms of skillset, Denton’s attitude towards playing for Scotland has always been spot on, unsurprising for a lad who grew up with a Scotland flag over his bed. I’ve also seen Denton admit in an interview somewhere that he’s aware he needs to flesh out his game and add offloading, so he’s aware and working to improve.

      3. Jpo7 so blame the selectors but lets stop bashing somone who is giving everything for his country and while he may not havve a huge variety to his game he is being picked to execute a game plan and has done well on this tour.

  3. Its hard to assess a result which Argentina kind of handed to us with their terrible first up tackling. However all of those tries needed finishing as once the break was made we did very well. Circa 2010 we would have butchered half of them.

    I thought wee Horne was outstanding and Bradbury was also top notch. But also a favourite moment is when we shoved Argentina off the ball at a scrum.

    Some of the back play off first phase was very impressive too. But it was almost as if Hastings was a third centre at times given how little he seemed to get the ball as first receiver. Basically I think Townsend did a fine job of covering the fact they did not have a stand off who can run the game.

    1. Definitely true re Hastings. Most likely that Gregor wanted to see if Hastings had the talent to cut it at test level, which it seems he does, while already knowing that the control will not be there yet due to lack of starts at club level. As soon as Hastings gets a consistent run of games for Glasgow I’d imagine the babysitting will stop and he’ll start stamping his own authority on the game.

      1. Hastings showed enough nous during the first half to switch it up to kicking for territory when the rain came on. He’s still young and perhaps drifted (or was taken out) of things a little second half, but you could see a big leap forward between last week and this most likely due to confidence. Next step is to test him (most likely off the bench) against some serious opposition in the autumn.

      2. Couple of points:

        1) Re Hastings, as well as some strong decision-making (admittedly without being put under much pressure), the thing that most impressed me was when he calmly stepped in to calm down some forwards when things began to kick off in the second half. He looked like a natural leader with authority and a really cool head.

        2) We actually had a good side circa 2010 and specifically beat Argentina away twice against a much better side than we faced last week. Andy Robinson had made a positive impact at that point. I know it was just a throwaway remark, NB, so I don’t mean to make too big a deal of it, but I see a lot of us too often casually dismissing 2000-2015 as if all the Scotland players during that time disgraced the jersey. We had a few outstanding players in that period and some real bright spots along the way, albeit within a decidely gloomy overall picture.

  4. Feel this side could be very dangerous come the world cup;

    15. Hogg
    14. Kinghorn
    13. Huw Jones
    12. Duncann Taylor
    11. Maitland
    10. Russell
    9. G.Horne
    8. Bradbury
    7. Watson
    6. Barclay
    5. Gilchrist/R.Gray
    4. J.Gray
    3. Z.Fagerson
    2. McInally
    1. Dell
    A side with plenty of talent both in the backs and forwards who could go on to have one of Scotland’s greatest ever world cup campaigns

    Been far more impressed with Bradbury than Denton this tour

    1. Largely agree with your team Blake, but I wouldn’t drop Berghan for Fagerson, as I think Berghan has really started to show his quality, whereas Fagerson’s progression seems to have stalled. I’d say Fagerson’s position as 3rd choice (behind Berghan & Nel) is starting to come under thread as well, as McCallum is coming along well.

      Also I suspect Laidlaw will be our 9 at the WC.

    2. its an excellent scotland team. one many would only have dreamed of 10 years ago. plenty on the bench with that team as well. My only quibble is again what many have stated is that against physical teams. Ireland, SA and to a certain extent wales this team may struggle to get front foot ball. Who in those 8 forwards is a proven ball carrier at international level who can break tackles – I would say only R Gray and McInally. Therefore the focus has to be improving that and also changing the game plan when this starts to happen (somthing that finn has struggled with) We have ireland in group stages who fimly belive they can win the world cup so need to be ready

    3. That’s a brilliant team and would be one I’d be very happy to see in the WC. As Rich says I’d probably start Berghan or Nel as I like the Edinburgh front row starting with Glasgow on the bench concept that Townsend goes for. Will be very interesting to see who is first choice front row for Edinburgh next season with all internationals Dell, Marfo and Sutherland on one side and Nel, Berghan and McCallum on the other.

      Think we’ll probably be starting with Laidlaw to the WC as well but if Horne continues improving at this rate who knows.

    4. Blake I think you have anti-Denton tendencies. Denton was far better than Bradbury this tour, both defensively and offensively. A try against Canada doesn’t really make up the difference.
      DD made yards every time he had the ball and didn’t miss a tackle (ESPN stats). He played every game and gave his heart and soul, and even off-loaded a couple of times (which will shame some on this blog). He is our best “natural 8” and, although Bradbury would do a job, is a 6/8 at best at the moment. Long ways to go yet but at the moment it’s either Wilson or Denton at 8, and DD has that ball-carrying ability we all crave!

  5. Just applied for world cup tickets for 6 world cup matches. I applied for tickets for Scotland’s group matches against Ireland, Russia and the play-off winner as well as both our potential quarter final matches and Wales vs Fiji. Hopefully I can be successful and get at least one ticket.

    3,000 yen (roughly £20) for games against Russia, Fiji and the play-off winner and 7,000 for the game against Ireland (£40) and 10,000 yen for each quarter final match.

    1. Just the 3 for me (Russia and Japan and had to throw in an England game for the wife).

      Do you know if you can pick up tickets after the ballot is announced if you’ve been unsuccessful?

  6. I feel vindicated by this result. All week, the naysayers were criticising Townsend, heaping pressure on the very young shoulders of our youth players, and wondering why Townsend was having the temerity to develop new players on a development tour! At times, it bordered on hysteria. When people like me pointed that out, we were shot down in flames.
    Even now they try to down play it by labelling Argentina the worst team in rugby history or similar guff, but given how good Scotland’s passing, offloads and running lines were in the first half, I don’t think it would have made a difference how good Argentina were.
    This development tour has delivered. We bloodied youth, learned a lot about new players and gave Argentina a good thrashing on home soil. I’m not even that bothered about the USA match. It was blip.
    With highly regarded coaches such as Danny Wilson and Shaun Wane being appointed to the Scotland set up, and a positive and entertaining brand of rugby being played, we’re on the dawn of a golden age that is bringing in the fans, and Toonie deserves a lot of credit for that.

    I don’t know about everybody else, but the next 2 years looks good to me. In the darkest days of the Matt Williams era, I would have given my right nut for what we have now.

    1. Interesting appointment, Shaun Wane. Any League fans around who know much about him? Be interesting to see what he brings to the party…

      1. Wane is an excellent coach who prides himself on really tough defence in his teams. He seems to take defeats personally but doesn’t throw any of his players under the bus, instead he demands they massively improve the following week. He’s turned some talented young Wigan players into top class players.

        I think he’s a fantastic appointment for Scottish rugby, obviously he needs to prove himself all over again in union but he’s got the drive and personality to improve us. I’m expecting a similar effect to Cockerill if we use his talents in the right way.

    2. Glad you’re feeling good about yourself, MC! Well done for being right ;)

      We’re all happy they did well, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted that result. I agree with almost all your points, except the one about Argentina. It always makes a difference how good the opposition are. How could it not?

  7. Dougie Fife’s try was very similar to Kinghorn’s try against Ireland in the 6N, with the way the backs were lined up behind the scrum. Both tries were very clinical and I think it’s a huge weapon at our disposal and teams will have a huge fear of a Scottish attacking 5m scrum in the middle of the park.

    From a defensive point of view, how on Earth can you defend a fast moving, well drilled and skilful back division all lined up on one side of a central scrum?

  8. A huge amount of positives from the tour – even the US match. We almost have three or four players now competing for positions in the run up to Japan. For me there are only a few currently nailed on:
    – Mcinally (but Brown and Turner can also do a job)
    – Hogg (world class)
    – Barclay (providing he gets match fit)
    – Laidlaw (match winner)
    – Kinghorn (needs to learn to defend, but hugely effective in attack)
    The rest of the positions are up for grabs and Toonie has very cleverly opened the door.

    1. For me, Watson would be nailed on. Russell too. But I take your point. As a development tour, it was a success.

  9. Really like Zander Fagerson and think when he is playing well he should be Scotlands first choice tighthead. However, admittedly he has gone backwards slightly this season, He needs a big season next year to even make it in the squad for the RWC with Nel, Berghan and Mcallum all pushing him for a spot on the plane to Japan.

    I also think its been overlooked just how good McCallum was when he came of the bench vs Canada and USA. Based purely on form this season, Mcallum should be ahead of Nel in the Edinburgh pecking order come the beginning of next season.

    1. Agree re McCallum, he has come on loads the last season or two. Not sure he quite usurps Nel just yet, WP has that invaluable experience to draw on. Still, given we were crying out for tight heads not that long ago, we now have 4 decent options in Bergman, Nel, Fargerson & McCallum. Loose head is probably more of an issue now with Dell & Bhatti looking good but Marfo appears to have struggled this season & not sure if we have anyone else at test level, maybe Reid at a stretch. On another note will be interesting to see how Weir gets on at Worcester – if he continues his form during his last few games at Embra, he could be a useful back up should Russell or Hastings be unavailable.

  10. With regards front row, surely Berghan is nailed on at tight head for the next few games at least, he has been terrific all through the six nations and this tour and really cannot see any reason for fagerson being ahead of him, his form has dipped and as mentioned above might even be 4th choice now.

    Lot of people seem to have forgotten how good a job Reid did in the 6N, against some brutal packs he solidified the scrum and whilst he might not have he mobility of Dell, he has a better set piece. Also easy to forget how well Marfo did last autumn against the Samoa, all blacks and Australia. I would say one of those guys is arguably no 1 choice for loosehead at the moment.

    1. Yeah I don’t think we need to look past Berghan as first choice TH now. He’s big and solid in the tight and tackles, offloads and passes in the loose. McCallum is improving as fast as Fagerson stagnates as well. When Nicol breaks through he’ll be an option too.

      LH may be a problem as Marfo is riding on 3 good games in his career. But if Marfo and Sutherland return to their best form next season to go with Dell and Bhatti then suddenly we’ve a wealth of options.

      1. Reid shored up Scotland’s set piece but not sure he has the all action game to break into Toonie’s test squad except as injury cover.

      2. I am not sure we should even be discussing Marfo anymore – there is something very dodgy about a player returning to fitness in March and not even making it back into the Embra squad.

        Clearly something going on we dont know about.

      3. Not sure about that Stu he did afterall sign a 3 year contract in March. I imagine that due to the nature of his back injury there may have been complications to overcome before returning to the stress of scrums etc even once fit.

      4. Scrummo, I hadn’t realised he’d signed a 3yr deal.

        It was very strange how he never made it back this season – others said he’s piled the weight on too in the club games he was involved in.

      5. Didn’t he slip a disc in his neck? Similar to Nel and a bugger to treat as we don’t have many treatment options available and usually are treated conservatively, with physio that may or may not be very effective. Not surprised a prop with a slipped disc piles on the pounds tbh!

      6. Mistype up there I believe it was a 2 year deal! Point stands though. Hopefully he’ll make it back to his previous form.

  11. An excellent end to a very worthwhile & productive tour. 2 very good wins, one disappointing, but perhaps understandable defeat, 17 tries scored, 6 conceded, and a raft of young players introduced to Test rugby.

    The loss to the USA has seen exactly the required response from the squad as a whole, but in particular Horne Jr & Hastings. They are both excellent prospects, but are still rather callow in terms of game management. Halfback is an area where Scotland only have one real expert – Laidlaw – so the way the young pair ran the game versus Argentina was heartening to see.

    The Toonie Tombola pulled out a few random choices over the tour, but I think that overall they worked. He now has more options, in more positions due to younger guys coming through and some more experienced players proving they are worth the jersey.

    All bodes well for further development during the autumn.

    As for the opposition – Canada will come again as they have the player base to make it happen. The USA will continue on this upward curve and will give anyone who doesn’t take them seriously a shock in Japan. Argentina – their form over the last few weeks was inexplicable given the Jaguares performances in Super Rugby.

    1. Indeed with USA and Argentina in the same group (with England, France and Tonga) makes the improvements in the US and (temporary?) decline of the Pumas quite interesting. France and England are bound to bounce back from lacklustre 6N and tours but on current form that group is more open than it would be, historically.

      1. And Tonga beat Fiji at the weekend as well. If the PI nations are given a level playing field then they will also be a dark horse for any pool.

  12. No mention of James Lang, I think he’s a real discovery, was impressive – another diamond in the rough surely?

    1. I agree he was impressive against Canada. Would have liked to see him do more in the Argentina game though as he didn’t make much of an impact. Shame he wasn’t brought on earlier.

      I think the jury is still out on him, but he deserves more game time – I still think he will be Horne’s backup at 12 in the long term.

    2. Agree with that. Someone who plays 10/12 in the AP isn’t going to be a mug and he showed some flashes to suggest he’ll be a good option. Big and strong and his pass in the Canada test for our first try wasn’t a bad Finn impression.

      Rory Hutchinson at Northampton hasn’t quite made the break through there yet but is another who has played at 10 and could be a second playmaker for us in the future so worth keeping an eye on.

      1. I personally do not rate the premiership that highly. I would say the quality of players is better overall in Pro14, Top14 and Super rugby.

  13. The AI’s squad will tell us where Toonie’s head is re selection for the WC next year. Then all the arguments really can begin …. lol!!!!

  14. This tour has enlightened me to some changes in a world cup starting 23 + the squad.

    Starting Squad
    1. Allan Dell
    2. Stuart Mcinally
    3. Simon Berghan
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Grant Gilchrist
    6. Josh Strauss (I Wish)
    7. Hamish Watson
    8. David Denton
    9. George Horne
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Blair Kinghorn
    12. Alex Dunbar
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Sean Maitland
    15. Stuart Hogg
    16. Fraser Brown
    17. Darryl Marfo
    18. Murray Mcallum
    19. Jonny Gray
    20. John Barclay
    21. Greig Laidlaw
    22. Duncan Taylor
    23. Tommy Seymour

    Reserves/other games

    24. Ross Ford (experience)
    25. Alastair Dickinson or Bhatti if no return.
    26. WP Nel
    27. Ben Toolis
    28. Jamie Ritchie
    29. Magnus Bradbury
    30. Sam Hidalgo Clyne
    31. Adam Hastings
    32. Peter Horne
    33. Tim Visser (If he can be persuaded to come out of retirement for a World cup) If not I guess Dougie Fife or Lee Jones

    I think the Argentina game showed what our backs can do with a powerful ball carrying pack.
    We seem to falter off alot of games so vital leadership on the bench and around the whole Squad.
    Still alot of Grafters in that starting team, Mcinally, Berghan, Watson, Horne, Dunbar, Maitland to balance out the flash players.

    1. I just wanted to point out:
      1. The maximum squad is 31, not 33.
      2. Are you Josh Strauss’ agent? I’d rather have Tim Swinson at 6, injured or not.
      3. Most of your so-called Grafters can be pretty flash too!

      1. Merlot if that is the case i would remove P.Horne and Alastair dickinson/bhatti from the 33.

        What do you think swinson offers which strauss does not and you cant be serious suggesting you would rather have an injured player over a fit one. Thats ludicrous.

        And i agree that those grafters can at times be very flash. My point is of course that those people still do alot of hard unseen work.

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