KO 8.40pm (4.40pm local time)
Saturday 23rd June 2018
Estadio Centenario, Resistencia
TV coverage – Channel 4 from 8.10pm
Some new faces and voices this week with Lee Mackenzie presenting and (most likely) Eddie Butler in the commentary booth. No confirmation yet which injured or ex-Scotland players will be joining them but hopefully some decent analysis to be had!
There are just 3 survivors from the last Scottish starting XV to tackle Argentina on their own turf – Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne and skipper Grant Gilchrist are the returning players. Tim Swinson and Dougie Fife were also involved from the bench back in 2014 in a side that was a blend of first choice and developmental selections.
The back 3 is the same trio that finished the game against the USA with Blair Kinghorn the only man to start all 3 games on this tour and now arguably inked in as first choice for Scotland on the wing. The young Edinburgh player will provide a real attacking threat alongside Stuart Hogg and Dougie Fife – who makes his first Test start for more than 3 years.
The inside backs are unchanged from last week with Peter Horne and Nick Grigg continuing their centre pairing and the “Hornstings” (I’m not giving up until this sticks…) partnership of Adam Hastings and wee Georgie Horne given another chance to strut their stuff on the international stage.
The pack is strengthened by 5 of the players who opened the tour against Canada. The Scots will be expecting the toughest test of their credentials so far this summer but there will also be a belief that if they can get the fundamentals right (in particular scrum, lineout, maul) they will create scoring opportunities against the Pumas defence.
Skipper Stuart McInally returns alongside club colleagues Allan Dell and Simon Berghan with the experienced combination of Tim Swinson and Grant Gilchrist backing them up in the second row. The back row of Magnus Bradbury and Devid Denton both carried strongly in Edmonton and will need to get Scotland over the gainline in Resistencia. They’re joined by hooker Fraser Brown in his less familiar position of openside flanker. Brown has played in the back row on a number of occasions for Glasgow as well as covering there for Scotland (including last week against the USA). It’s likely that Gregor Townsend is exploring his options for flexibility within next summer’s 31-man squad for the RWC in Japan.
Off the bench George Turner will cover hooker (and maybe back row as well – who even knows any more?) as part of an all Glasgow front row with teammates Jamie Bhatti and Zander Fagerson. The presence of Ben Toolis and Jamie Ritchie among the replacements should mean little drop-off in intensity for the Scottish pack as the game progresses – essential when taking on the physical Argentinians.
Boasting a whole 11 caps, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is a relative veteran among the substitutes for the backs with his colleagues James Lang (1) and Chris Harris (3) still very fresh faces on the Test scene.
There’s another step up in the experience in the Scottish XV this week (290 caps v 182 caps) and it’s also the heaviest pack selected so far this summer at 900kg. Both factors could well be crucial if the dark blues are to take down an Argentinian side that will be smarting after back to back defeats to Wales.
15. Stuart Hogg
14. Dougie Fife
13. Nick Grigg
12. Peter Horne
11. Blair Kinghorn
10. Adam Hastings
9. George Horne
1. Allan Dell
2. Stuart McInally (c)
3. Simon Berghan
4. Tim Swinson
5. Grant Gilchrist
6. Magnus Bradbury
7. Fraser Brown
8. David Denton
16. George Turner
17. Jamie Bhatti
18. Zander Fagerson
19. Ben Toolis
20. Jamie Ritchie
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22. James Lang
23. Chris Harris
Not selected – Murray McCallum, Lewis Carmichael, Charlie Shiel, Mark Bennett, Byron McGuigan
Argentina Scouting Report
Record in this RWC cycle
Played – 29
Won – 8
Lost – 21
Games against Tier 1 opposition
Played 25. Won 4. Lost 21. Argentina must have the toughest schedule in world rugby. A dozen matches against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa since the last RWC with another 9 to come before even making it to Japan – the Pumas may be testing themselves against the best but it provides little opportunity to build up any winning momentum.
Route to RWC 2019
After their 4th place finish at the last World Cup Argentina were one of the 12 automatic qualifiers for next year’s tournament in Japan. There will be some physical games in their pool which contains England, France, USA and Tonga but with New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland all on the other side of the draw if Argentina can get a new coach in place and recall their European-based players they will be looking for another run to the semi-finals.
They may not be quite the powerhouse of days gone by but the Argentinian pack can still be brutally effective at what they do. Wales smothered the South Americans with an aggressive defence and a huge amount of physicality in their pack to stop the Pumas ball-carriers on the gainline.
Javier Ortega Desio was one of the few Argentine forwards to manage to consistently get on the front foot and his ability to break tackles will be a real threat to Scotland. He may be particularly keen to break a try-scoring drought that stretches back to 2014 – when he crossed in consecutive games against Scotland…
21-year old Bautista Delguy only made his Super Rugby debut for the Jaguares in February this year. The winger has notched 8 tries in his 9 starts for his club side before picking up another 5-pointer in his 2nd cap for Argentina having played both Tests against Wales. As with so many of the Pumas players Delguy has come through the 7s pathway as well as a couple of years playing in the World Rugby U20s Championship. It’s a system that seems to allow young Argentinians to hit the ground running and Scotland will need to be wary out wide on Saturday night no matter who is selected.
Scotland and Argentina have met on 7 previous occasions in South America with the home side victorious in the first three matches and the Scots currently on a 4-game winning streak in this fixture:
Argentina 14 – 26 Scotland
Buenos Aires, 14 June 2008
Argentina: Horacio Agulla (1T); Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe (1T); Federico Todeschini (2C)
Scotland: Ross Ford (1T); Graeme Morrison (1T); Chris Paterson (2C, 4P)
Argentina 16 – 24 Scotland
Tucuman, 12 June 2010
Argentina: Gonzalo Tiesi (1T); Juan Manuel Leguizamon (1T); Felipe Contepomi (2C)
Scotland: Dan Parks (6P, 2DG)
Argentina 9 – 13 Scotland
Mar del Plata, 19 June 2010
Argentina: Felipe Contepomi (2P), Martin Rodriguez Gurruchage (1P)
Scotland: Jim Hamilton (1T); Dan Parks (1C, 2P)
Argentina 19 – 21 Scotland
Cordoba, 20 June 2014
Argentina: Javier Ortega Desio (1T); Joaquin Tuculet (1T); Nicolas Sanchez (2P, 1DG)
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (1T); Henry Pyrgos (1T); Duncan Weir (1C, 3P)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant 1: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant 2: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
M. Raynal has only refereed a couple of Scotland games in the past 8 seasons but previous experience of his style of officiating in Glasgow matches should mean that Toony and his troops are well aware that the French referee tends to strongly favour the side in possession if they are showing positive intent.
The experienced whistler hasn’t exactly been a lucky charm for Scotland. In 2012 he was the man in charge when Andy Robinson’s side were humbled by Tonga despite M. Raynal hammering the Sea Eagles in the penalty and card count. It was Scotland who were on the wrong end of the same ref’s wrath when Vern Cotter took his charges to Twickenham in 2017 and then…stuff happened which we don’t talk about.
Scotland’s previous games with M. Raynal in charge:
- 2012 – lost to Tonga (H)
Penalties: 37 (For 25 – 12 Against)
Cards: Tonga 3 YCs
- 2017 – lost to England (A)
Penalties: 18 (For 5 – 13 Against)
Cards: Scotland 1 YC (Fraser Brown)