Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v Argentina: Autumn Tests 2018 Match Preview pt II – head to heads

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

After the Springboks last week now it’s on to the Pumas. Not, in fact, the national animal of Argentina – that honour goes to the Rufous Hornero. Which sounds like the third Horne brother but is in fact the red ovenbird – rather less intimidating than the big cat that adorns the rugby team’s jerseys.

The national animal of Scotland is of course the unicorn. Something which neatly demonstrates that Scottish people can’t take anything seriously. So is the smart money on the warbling birds or the mythical pointy headed horses? Here’s how the nations they represent match up for Murrayfield on Saturday:

Tale of the tape

50   Tries   51
93kg   Average weight   86kg
234   Caps   237
26.5   Average age   26.3

897kg   Pack weight   893kg
13   Tries   19
182   Caps  326
27.3   Average age   26.5

133   Caps   269
   Tries   28
27.7   Average age   26.2

8 Scotland changes from last Test (v South Africa)

  • 14 – Kinghorn for Seymour [-]
  • 10/12 – Hastings for P. Horne with Russell moving to 12 [-]
  • 1 – Dell for Reid [+]
  • 2 – Brown for McInally [=]
  • 3 – Berghan for Nel [=]
  • 4 – Gilchrist for Toolis [+]
  • 6 – Ritchie for Skinner [+]
  • 8 – Strauss for Wilson [=]

15 Stuart Hogg
14 Blair Kinghorn
13 Huw Jones
12 Finn Russell
11 Sean Maitland
10 Adam Hastings
9 Greig Laidlaw (c)
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Argentina
ADV Scotland
15 Emiliano Boffelli
14 Bautista Delguy
13 Matias Moroni
12 Jeronimo de la Fuente
11 Ramiro Moyano
10 Nicolas Sanchez
9 Gonzalo Bertranou

1 Allan Dell
2 Fraser Brown
3 Simon Berghan
4 Grant Gilchrist
5 Jonny Gray
6 Jamie Ritchie
7 Hamish Watson
8 Josh Strauss

ADV Argentina
ADV Argentina
ADV Scotland
ADV Scotland
ADV Argentina
ADV Scotland
ADV Argentina

1 Santiago Garcia Botta
2 Augustin Creevy
3 Santiago Medrano
4 Guido Petti
5 Tomas Lavanini
6 Pablo Matera (c)
7 Rodrigo Bruni
8 Javier Ortega Desio

16 Stuart McInally
17 Alex Allan
18 Willem Nel
19 Sam Skinner
20 Ryan Wilson
21 George Horne
22 Alex Dunbar
23 Byron McGuigan

ADV Scotland
ADV Argentina
ADV Scotland
ADV Argentina
ADV Argentina
ADV Scotland

16 Julian Montoya
17 Juan Pablo Zeiss
18 Lucio Sordoni
19 Matias Alemanno
20 Tomas Lezana
21 Martin Landajo
22 Matias Orlando
23 Sebastian Cancelliere


Backs – advantage Scotland

Both sides are pretty reliant on their star stand offs. Since June 2016, when Argentina played their first proper Test match of this RWC cycle, Nicolas Sanchez has started 31 0f their 35 games at fly half (with another 2 caps from the bench). Scotland have also leant heavily on one man in this position – although Finn Russell has been slightly less ubiquitous, starting 23 out of 32 Tests (with no sub appearances plus this game at 12).

In this context Gregor Townsend’s attempts to reduce the reliance on Russell make sense. More than likely The Muscle will be the dark blues’ number 1 number 10 during the RWC but if form or injury intervene then Scotland won’t be staring a crisis in the face the same way that the Pumas will if Sanchez is not fit and firing.

Forwards – slight advantage Argentina

Part 1 of the match preview discussed the changes in the Argentinian scrum. Scotland forwards’ coach Danny Wilson will be expecting his charges to really take on the visitors at the setpiece. There’s no question that the Scottish pack will still be facing a dangerous opponent though.

More mobile than classic Pumas of old, the visitors will turn the breakdown into a real scrap if given the opportunity. A crucial factor in this facet of the game could be the performances of the two hookers, Fraser Brown and Augustin Creevy, and how well they support their respective back rows at ruck time.

Subs – even

Argentina have the edge in terms of raw numbers for the experience on their bench with more than twice as many caps as their Scottish adversaries. Scotland have a smattering of (arguably) first choice players to call on though and in George Horne a potential game changer at scrum half.

Setting aside the blowout when these sides met over the summer the average margin in Tests during the pro era has been 6 points. That means live games right to the final whistle and a crucial role for the benches to play in deciding the final outcome.


Byron McGuigan is the 32nd player Scotland have used during this season’s Autumn Internationals (16 forwards and 16 backs).

– 17 other players (10 forwards and 7 backs) were named in the extended squad at some stage but did not feature (6 of them due to injury).

Unused forwards: Ford, Turner, McCallum, Cummings, Ashe, Bradbury, Denton, Graham, Harley, Thomson.

Unused backs: Pyrgos, Weir, Grigg, JohnsonLangScott, Fife

– Scotland have won their last 4 matches (and also 7 of the last 9) against Argentina at all venues.

Josh Strauss is at number 8 exactly 17 months after his last start for Scotland against Fiji in Suva.

– There’s a first ever appearance on the subs bench in a Test match for Alex Dunbar – 5 years and 30 caps into his international career!

– 5 of Scotland’s backs have played stand off at PRO14 level or above. The backline is packed with highly-skilled decision makers with genuine rugby intelligence all over the pitch.

– Argentina’s reserve hooker, Julian Montoya, has 50 caps under his belt. 46 of them have come from the bench and he hasn’t started a match for the Pumas since October 2015.

39 Responses

  1. No idea of the Argentines and so no idea regarding your head to heads. But probably a lot harder a game than the general public will be expecting yet our record is probably showing it to be a little easier than it has been or should have been in some of those matches.

    Interesting to note, (I maybe wrong on this) but I don’t think a single Scottish player has been ruled out due to injury in the autumn tests thus far? That given the climate and the high injury rate especially within Scotland is incredible. Even if that is not true it is remarkably low for the norm. Maybe the new tackle laws are helping.

    The list of the players who have not been selected and were available. Would have liked to have seen a few of them get a run out. Might be the last chance to see them before the tests pre world cup. Pygros was the form scrum half up until the autumn. I would have put him to start in Wales. I thought Ford or Turner were worth a sub spot somewhere, and Ashe to see if he has recovered his form. Not sure what Grigg or Fife did wrong to not get a bench spot somewhere and now the Gary Graham soap opera will carry on. We now have the chance of him being selected by England again and more hate being spouted forth.

  2. What was the deal with Matt Scott and Blade Thomsons injuries ? i thought they had concussions but seems unusual for return to play protocols to last this long.

  3. Weird atmosphere …not helped by a Scotland team that have done the square root of zero.

    Hope the performance level improves otherwise we have gone backwards in these AIs.

  4. Clear out not good enough. Too many passengers in the pack. Not playing at the same time.

  5. Laidlaw is infuriatingly slow and keeps kicking it away.

    We should at least be trying to kick to corners etc and finding out if we can get results before kicking for points.

    1. Despite what Barclay saying Laidlaw is showing why some never convinced by him. I don’t think his kicking is bad, he just doesn’t offer anything going forward. Would never start for a SH team. Brilliant for marshalling the monsters of a French pack, but that’s clearly not Scotland. Gray having a poor game so far, can’t hold onto the ball let alone carry. Gilchrist nothing. Ritchie disappointingly on the fringes, looks like he needs a bit more muscle and weight before he can influence the game at this level. Dell hasn’t crumbled but does not go forward. Watson bouncing around everywhere, but if there aren’t more powerful players around him then he’s as ineffective as the rest. Strauss has carried. We need a strong straight runner at inside centre, Russell anonymous not through his fault. Hastings looks like a real back up prospect. But all in all we’ve been going nowhere. Good defence though. Would love to see Horne given a chance for the whole second half. Come on GT let’s revise those kicking orders and get him on (not going to happen).

  6. So much for the noise from Laidlaw pre match about how he was going to link Russell and Hastings. Slow feeds and too much kicking.
    Is Russell even on the pitch?…I can’t tell.

    If this is how its going to be in the 6N we’ll be lucky to get 1 win. At least we have Italy at home….Woeful….

  7. Gray is an attacking liability, does not have a strong skill set.

    Just a big lump who defends with no power.

    Would bring on Skinner and Horne right away.

    1. Don’t know what more can be said of JGray. Barely international level imo….let alone a 1st choice.
      Continually selecting likes of Gray and Wilson …is going to be GTs downfall I reckon. Its obvious there is blind loyalty there.

      Worst game Ive watched in a long time….

  8. The Hastings/Russell combo has not produced anything and Argentina playing the quicker game. Rain or not, rugby this slow will only result in Scotland dropping down the world rankings.

  9. Let’s see Horne and Russell with Dunbar at inside centre FFS. That’s one worth trying among all the experiments no???

    1. NRS, Hastings/Russell not getting anything to play with from Laidlaw, every time they touch the ball they are under enormous pressure.

      Horne needs to come on! we should be down 6-15 atm.

  10. Wilson for Strauss URGHHH. Is Fagerson on the bench, should be on for Ritchie. Strauss should be on the pitch. GT has a tv monitor in front of him. Ridiculous.

  11. Have we went for an attacking opportunity in there 22 once yet ? Laidlaw just keeps going 3 points…

  12. Replace an old average no8 …with a club level no 8….exciting stuff GT!!

    Crikey… these AIs have only shown that we will do nothing in either the 6N or the world cup.

  13. Doesn’t matter if we win this. Useless. No consistency or fluidity this Autumn. Same old basic weaknesses and mental fragility. Must do everything better. Only hope this was all down to experimenting and the 6N isn’t such a lacklustre sh*tshow. I thought we were on the brink of being a tier 1 rugby nation again. Not on any of these showings.

  14. Scotland did not win that match.

    Argentina lost it.

    My MoM would have been Creevy, giving it to Laidlaw…

    Shame Horne did not get an opportunity.

    Not sure what we learnt from that game.

    Mcguigan looked energetic when he came on.

  15. The Autumn has been several steps back. We are feeble and underpowered at international level and the lack of ball handling skills by players who play in the wettest top level rugby playing nation in the World was absolutely garbage. A rude awakening that needs fixed

  16. The only thing learned from the AIs …is that we have no idea what our best team is going into 6N and WRC year.

    Cant even single a player out from today… at best mediocre.

  17. Lucky. Scotland were completely clueless and lacked the basics. The lack of a world class fly half has been rudely exposed by these Autumn tests. Toonie needs to wake up and stop experimenting. The only people fooled by his lack of consistency (and tactics) are his own players.

  18. Personally I think today revealed a lot of the dead rubber in the squad still. I think GT needs to be cut throat and just get rid of a few guys. My team come the RWC is something along the lines of:

    1- (no one yet)
    2- McInally
    3- Fagerson
    4- R Gray
    5- Skinner
    6- Barclay (if back to his best, if not then Ritchie)
    7- Watson
    8- Fagerson
    9- Horne
    10- Russell
    11- Kinghorn
    12- Sam Johnson (Unlikely, but I view him as the most talented 12 we have)
    13- Jones
    14- Maitland
    15- Hogg

    16- Brown (although he’ll lose us a game. He’s not a winner)
    17- (No idea)
    18- Nel
    19- J Gray
    20- Wilson (v underrated) or Thomson
    21- Laidlaw (sadly)
    22- Hastings
    23- (whoever is in the most exciting form)

  19. How many metres did Straits make? He might be big but he is very good at finding the tackler with ball in hand. I thought Wilson added speed and energy at the end

  20. Two essentials needed before WCup – at least one big ball carrier (it’s not J Gray) quicker ball from the breakdown.

  21. Well after that autumn series…

    Gregor Townsend – Down (to much variation in selection meant no consistency, need to establish a first choice team by end of 6 N and have it performing well.

    Biggest issue was lack of Go forward and breakdown in all games, this cost us against the strong T1 teams and will most certainly happen again in 6 n.

    Players going up.


    Going down


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