Argentina v Scotland First Test: Summer Tour 2022, Match Preview pt I

KO 8.10pm BST (4.10pm local time)
Estadio 23 de Agosto, San Salvador de Jujuy
Saturday 2nd July 2022

Live on Sky Sports Action / Main Event 

After last week’s aperitif against Chile, it’s time for the full three course Argentinian steak dinner to begin. This will be the first time in Scotland’s history that they will have played a three-Test series against any opponent. Given the potential new structure for the international calendar it may well also be their last!

The dark blues have played three matches in in a row against the same opposition on one other occasion this century though – versus Australia during the Summer Tour of 2004 and the first fixture of the Autumn Series in the same year. It was the height of the Matt Williams era so, of course, they lost all three games by an aggregate score of 100-42.

Summer tours with more than one match against the same opponent:

  • 2016 – Japan. Won 2-0
  • 2010 – Argentina. Won 2-0
  • 2008 – Argentina. Drew 1-1
  • 2006 – South Africa. Lost 2-0
  • 2004 – Australia. Lost 2-0
  • 2003 – South Africa. Lost 2-0
  • 2000 – New Zealand. Lost 2-0
  • 1998 – Australia. Lost 2-0
  • 1996 – New Zealand. Lost 2-0
  • 1994 – Argentina. Lost 2-0
  • 1992 – Australia. Lost 2-0
  • 1990 – New Zealand. Lost 2-0
  • 1982 – Australia. Drew 1-1
  • 1981 – New Zealand. Lost 2-0

Argentina Scouting Report

The Long Road Home

It can’t be easy being an Argentinian rugby player. 31 of their 33-man squad play outwith their home country, travelling far and wide to play at a suitable level of rugby. Not only that but it has been nearly three years – 1,058 days in fact – since the Pumas were able to play a Test match on their own turf. During this time, Argentina have been nominally the home side in matches played as far afield as Newcastle, Brisbane, Gold Coast in Australia and Port Elizabeth in South Africa – the nearest of which is more than 4,600 miles from Argentina.

With that last genuine home game coming on 10th October 2019 against South Africa in Salta there have been no opportunities for the Pumas to turn around what had been a pretty challenging few years in Argentina. Their last home win came in 2018, a 32-19 triumph over South Africa. In fact, since the southern hemisphere winter of 2016 when they beat Italy, France and South Africa, Los Pumas have only won two matches on Argentinian soil.

Ledesma Leaves and Cheika Checks In

Under Mario Ledesma, the Pumas pulled off one of the biggest results in Argentinian rugby history when they knocked over the All Blacks in 2020 Tri Nations Series. The legendary hooker also managed wins over South Africa and Australia (in Australia) early on in his tenure. The remainder of his results were pretty much in line with the tough spell the national side has been going through during the last couple of World Cup cycles.

Since beating Ireland to reach the 2015 RWC semi-finals, Argentina have played 65 Test matches, winning 15 and losing 50. (By way of contrast, since that same fixture, the Irish have won 52 and lost 20 of their international games.)

To attempt to lead them back to that level of being among the top four in the world, the Pumas have opted for Ledesma’s old boss with Australia – and an equally take no prisoners type of character – in Michael Cheika. The former Leinster coach has experience of beating Scotland (most painfully in 2015 and also in 2016) but equally of losing to the dark blues (home and away in 2017).

Leading from the front

Skipper, Julian Montoya, is starting his second season as captain of the Pumas. There was a slow build in the hooker’s international career before reaching these heights though. The first five years saw him as perennial backup to Augustin Creevy, bringing energy from the bench, earning 50 of his first 56 caps as a substitute. Since scoring a hat-trick against Tonga in the 2019 RWC he has taken over the number 2 jersey though, starting 19 matches in a row for his country.

He was the driving force behind whatever defiance an overmatched Argentinian side could muster in the 2021 Rugby Championship, leading the way in the defensive effort with double-digit tackles in every game and rarely missing. 37-year old Agustin Creevy has returned to the squad but he may well have to accept that the roles have reversed and Montoya is the starter now. After an outstanding season for English champions, Leicester, that’s no more than the younger man deserves.

Miscellaneous

  • This will be just the second Test match that Argentina have played in San Salvador de Jujuy, with the other game being against Georgia in 2017.
  • The Pumas’ most recent outings were in last year’s Rugby Championship. It was tough going for Argentina who averaged fewer than half the metres made by their opponents – 269m v 607m. That ties in with some frail defensive performances that saw their tackle completion fall as low as 80% and never rise higher than 87%.
  • Tomas Lavanini’s disciplinary record may attract the most attention but both Marcos Kremer and Pablo Matera had outings in the Rugby Championship where they conceded four penalties in a game.
  • Generally speaking, it was always hard graft being an Argentinian forward in the Rugby Championship but with New Zealand running rampant last September, even scrum half Gonzalo Bertanou was forced to attempt 31 tackles in a single game. That’s more than Ali Price had to make in the entire Six Nations (where he played 309 minutes).

Previous results

This will be the ninth time the two sides have met in Argentina. The head-to-head looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:

L L L W W W W W

Most recent meeting in Argentina:

Argentina 15 – 44 Scotland

Significant stat
10 – the number of defenders beaten by Scotland’s starting back row of Magnus Bradbury, Fraser Brown and David Denton. While it might have been the backs that made most of the metres and the clean breaks, the loose trio consistently punched holes to get the dark blues on the front foot again and again.

With Argentina’s defence unlikely to be as accommodating as they were last time out in Resistencia, winning the brutality battle up front will be a huge factor in setting the momentum of Saturday’s First Test.

The Scottish Rugby Blog match report from that game is here.

Officials

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referee 1:  Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referee 2: Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

This will be Scotland game number five for Mr Berry. Previous experience suggests that when is good he is Berry good indeed but when he is bad he is horrid. In particular, the Scots really lost the run of things against Wales in the Six Nations when there were occasions they were penalised for ‘offences’ with no impact on the ball while Wales got away with slowing possession at crucial times. It’s primarily going to be up to whoever is leading the forwards on Saturday to get the Ozzie ref onside at the breakdown and see if Scotland can’t win the penalty count for a change!

Scotland’s previous games with Mr Berry in charge:

  • 2017 – beat Samoa (H)
    Penalties: 18 (For 9 – 9 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2019 – lost to France (A)
    Penalties: 22 (For 10 – 12 Against)
    Cards: France 1 YC
  • 2021 – beat Tonga (H)
    Penalties: 21 (For 12 – 9 Against)
    Cards:  Rob Harley (YC), Tonga 1 YC
  • 2022 – lost to Wales (A)
    Penalties: 21 (For 8 – 13 Against)
    Cards: Finn Russell (YC)

Part II of the preview, including the head to heads, will follow later in the week, after the team announcements.

Scotland Team: 15. Rory Hutchinson, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Blair Kinghorn, 9. Ali Price; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Grant Gilchrist, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Magnus Bradbury, 7. Luke Crosbie, 8. Matt Fagerson
Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Rory Sutherland, 18. Javan Sebastian, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Rory Darge, 21. Ben White, 22. Ross Thompson, 23. Sione Tuipulotu.

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When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

23 comments on “Argentina v Scotland First Test: Summer Tour 2022, Match Preview pt I

  1. Warks Scot on

    I don’t get why you would release a winger who played well in the Chile, scoring a hattrick in the process? Guess it happened to Steyn too but seems really bad player management if you’re not able to play yourself into a tour squad. McClean might have been the more likely choice pre tour but Hoyland also offers the ability to cover FB. More evidence that your face has to fit ….

    • Toony Tunes on

      You are overthinking it if you think there is a strong commitment to player management. I doubt anyone is safe and that is a fear that both motivates and debilitates . How can you player manage them all, we have cycled so many players in recent years. It doesn’t matter if it is right or wrong or fair or unfair, it is just the way it is.

  2. Big Al on

    I know this is professional sport but it feels a bit rubbish to be sending some of these boys home so soon. Yes they might have been holding tackle bags but in terms of player management and development hanging on to them for one more week might have been good form especially if we pick up some injuries in the next game.

  3. Toony Tunes on

    Let them come home, focus on those remaining. They will feel like extras, behave like extras. Not fair on them, not fair on the remaining guys. They have test matches to win, reputations to save. Nah , it is time Toony committed himself to a set of players and got the best out of them. Test time, test time for Toony. They got this call right IMO .

    • Warks Scot on

      I don’t have a problem with releasing a few players; that was always the intention and SRU can’t afford to support an expanded tour squad. My issue is the selection process for those returning home, it almost seems preordained. If you’ve got no chance of playing yourself into the Test Squad – and not sure what more Hoyland had to do to impress – what’s the point of fielding an “A” team? I’m sure Matthews knew he was 4th choice hooker and therefore likely to go home but you would hope that for Hodgson, Currie, Mumcaster & Hoyland there was an opportunity to impress. To me, Hoyland hit the “impress” threshold and had a better game than McClean but still shown an airport taxi. In form and can cover across the back 3, and though not first choice for a starting berth, would be useful back-up. Can only imagine his age counts against him or he tipped a beer can over Toonie’s head.
      I’ll be really fuming if Hutchinson doesn’t start at 12. Johnson is solid but doesn’t have the same physicality as the likes of Aki/Roberts/Tuilagi nor the play-maker ability of Horne/Redpath. I do think we play best with a ball-playing 12 and would love to see Bennett alongside as the form 13 on this tour. I can see why GT has stuck with Harris but think Harris too would benefit from a creative 12 to feed off.

      • Warmer on

        Maybe we are being a bot too sentimental. Hoyland Scored three tries , what a big deal that is, not many can say that but he is a winger, they finish their tries , that is the core skill for a winger IMO.

        It was special, it was a pleasure to watch, we are pleased for him, he did his family, friends, fans and himself proud, but that is how it goes, he is a winger for goodness sake.

        When you play a side like Chile who are 23rd in RW rankings, you ship the ball around and score in the flanks, let the ball do the work and take the man 121. I learned that as a Schoolboy, good sides stop you from allowing the ball to travel wide. It just came his way a lot and he took his chances, well done. Some Player excel against weaker sides , others do not, they perform better in the pressure cooker.

        If Ben Muncaster or Jonnie Matthews scored three tries and were being sent home , I might be raising an eyebrow and expect Toony to be getting a call from someone in a blazer.

        Everyone has a favourite . I agree if feels a tad harsh in isolation but in perspective, there are worse ways to go home than on the back of scoring three tries.

        Personally I like the acceleration of McClean , he is chunky and has a directness in his run I have not seen for many years. This test series was made for him and he has the robustness to deal with the Argy Bargy.

        Oh and they are all competing with Duhan for a test spot. That is perspective . Enough said.

      • Alan Reardon on

        SRU can’t afford an extended tour squad but they can manage to double Dobsons earnings and those on the board are doing nicely too. Maybe if the money was spent on development and retaining players it would be better spent

  4. FF on

    Intrigued how we’ll go in this series and not too bothered about results. Think Argentina will be much better than many give them credit for and without Hogg and Russell we might be a bit rudderless.

    Will our pack front up after being marmalised by the Irish in the last game of the 6N?

    Will Kinghorn finally show hints he can manage a game from FH as well as he can attack a defensive line?

    Will anyone lay claim to being Hogg’s back up and heir in waiting?

    Will anyone emerge as serious rival to Harris at 13 (Bennett please) and will Hutchison seize his chance?

  5. FF on

    Also Gatland looking for move back NH after contract up next summer. Just saying for those on Toonie watch…proven test match winner right there ;)

  6. Sam Laycock on

    agree re hutchinson,i was really worried, especially when jones/hastings pulled out that he would just end up covering 10 and 15. He deserves a fair crack at 12/13. Looks like that’s exactly what has happened. hopefully he goes really well.

    • Tam Tm tok on

      Eh he is at full back ? And It is funny how you are saying you thought he might be shoved in at 15 now. I do not remember that. He is a 12 13 and that was why he is there.The man is a sensensationaln centre playing at a constantly high standard in the English premiership. Not because he is an outstanding 15 at club level. Is this just another post decision hedge again ?

      • Sam Laycock on

        There is a difference between saying you thought someone would get picked at 15 and saying you feared they might.
        Hutchinson’s been very hard done by throughout his Scotland career. First brought into the 2019 WC training squad, got 1 start in a warm up game (scored 2 try’s away to Georgia) and then omitted from final squad and kicked into the wilderness for 3 yrs until 2022 6N where Townsend name checked him as a potential 10 or 15 when discussing Hastings omission from that squad. All I’ve said here is that I had hoped that when he got his chance it would be in the center where he’s at his best but feared, given the way he’s been treated by Townsend that he might just be used as a utility option. I fear if he has a tough game that he will be discarded again, which would be a crying shame for such a talented player.

      • Danny on

        No difference in my opinion. Did you say so when Hastings was omitted , I do not recall that, has he been harshly treated, I doubt Toony will agree with you. He has been invited hasn’t he, he is getting his chance isnt he. You are just being Cassandra yet again. I do agree , he is already being treated badly, he cannot win. If he plays well there is no future, he is not Hogg’s understudy and if not, he will be dropped yet again.

  7. John on

    Well at the very least GT keeps us fans on our toes, very exciting backine and given a wee bit space they will do damage. Strong looking forward pack too. Need to ensure Kinghorn gets front foot ball if he does we’re in for a rollercoaster

  8. Warks Scot on

    Think Hutchinson has played FB for the Saints on a few occasions but still don’t understand why he isn’t in at 12. Plenty of potential permutations in the back line come substitution time I guess – could be Hutchinson/Bennett hopefully – but think this is a missed opportunity especially when Smith or Kinghorn could slot in at 15 and have more recent game time there

    • Cassandra Laymealone on

      Mindlrss isn’t it. Don’t pick a man for years and shove him in out of position. If he plays well,we already have a full back,
      see you next time.If he plays badly, told you lot he was not up to it,leave me alone , I know best.

  9. Neil on

    Probably what i would of went with.

    Oli Smith – Darcy Graham – Mark Bennett – Rory Hutchinson – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Blair Kinghorn – George Horne – Magnus Bradbury – Rory Darge – Luke Crosbie – Grant Gilchrist – Sam Skinner – Zander Fagerson – Dave Cherry – Rory Sutherland

    Sam Johnson – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Scott Cummings – Murphy Walker – George Turner – Pierre Schoeman

    6/2 Split as Hutchinson and Kinghorn are very versatile and will need to have proven that internationally come WC to make a match-day 23.

    Arguably stronger/less exciting players on the bench in some positions which i think important due to their being a pattern of Glasgow players in particular losing shape as a game goes on.

    • Tam Tm tok on

      Sunderland 1st pick. No you have that wrong . If a lions tour was picked today,Sunderland would not be in it. I expect Hawick fans will disagree but frankly they are wrong.A great player with a great story to tell but he has peaked and is now out his league at this level.Sorry,I also wish I was wrong.The lad needs time and patience.I wish Toony would stop pushing him like he is doing him a favour.

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