KO 8.10pm BST (4.10pm local time)
Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena, Salta
Saturday 9th July 2022
Live on Sky Sports Action
Last Saturday saw Scotland lose to the Pumas for the first time since the 2011 RWC – although granted that 11-year spell does cover just six matches. There is plenty on the line as the action moves to Salta with the dark blues needing a win to stay alive in the Test series, get back on track with the buildup to the next World Cup and try and maintain their strong record against the Argentinians – second only to Italy among Tier 1 nations.
Scotland’s win percentage against Tier 1 opposition over the last decade:
- Italy – 93% (W14, L1)
- Argentina – 83% (W5, L1)
- Australia – 50% (W3, L3)
- France – 36% (W5, L9)
- England – 30% (W3, D1, L6)
- Wales – 18% (W2, L9)
- Ireland – 15% (W2, L11)
- New Zealand – 0% (L3)
- South Africa – 0% (L6)
First Test Scouting Report
Scotland’s returning starters (Mark Bennett and Rory Hutchinson were back in the XV for the first time since 2016 and 2019 respectively) slotted in relatively seamlessly given the length of their absences. The outside centre and full back contributed 5 of the dark blues’ 10 tackle breaks as well as both of the tries scored on the night. If the Scottish attack is to be supercharged this weekend, then this duo will almost certainly be at the very heart of the action.
Scotland’s starting back row – all thumping carriers on their day – contributed just 17 metres of ground gained. By way of context the average for the Scottish 6, 7 and 8 during the most recent Six Nations was 59m. Last time they played Argentina away the tally was 75m. Any successful effort in the Second Test almost certainly requires, at the very least, one of the three to break free of the shackles put on them by the Pumas.
(Surprisingly this is not the worst return for a loose trio in the Towsend era. That would be the 12m made by the back row that started against England in 2018. In their defence that was a very different game with the Scottish backs ripping it up for nearly 400m ball in hand so back row carrying wasn’t quite so vital.)
During the first 40 minutes in Jujuy on Saturday evening, Scotland had just 22% territory to work with. That was all-time bad across all 110 halves of rugby that the dark blues have played during the Townsend era. There’s not doubt their hosts were swept along on a wave of support after waiting more than 1,000 days to play in front of their own fans but the Scots were the architects of their downfall in many ways and have faced similarly inspired sides without spending nearly 80% of the opening period stuck in their own half.
The Downright Weird
141 combined carries by Argentina and Scotland – the fewest in any game during the Townsend era. The opening Test proceeded at a remarkably lackadaisical pace throughout. There was very little happening with about 400 fewer match events than average compared to Scotland’s last 50 or so games.
For Argentina, with their nine players over 30 and serious veteran status for some, this made sense. For the Scots, not so much. The fastest rugby in the world may not be in sync with how the game is currently played but the slowest rugby the Townsend era has ever seen is surely even less suitable for the dark blues’ current resources.
This will be the tenth 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 L
Most recent meeting in Argentina:
Argentina 26 – 18 Scotland
The Scottish Rugby Blog post-match analysis from that game is here.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referee 1: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 2: Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
M. Raynal was in charge for two of Scottish rugby’s most horrifically bad days in recent memory – Tonga at Pittodrie in 2012 and England at Twickenham in 2017. The 2018 trouncing of Saturday’s hosts, Argentina was a welcome change of outcome but that was immediately followed up by business as usual at the Principality Stadium.
The dark blues’ last encounter with the French ref was in 2020 when they came as close as they had for a decade to a win in Dublin. The lopsided penalty count (among many other factors) was enough to see Ireland ease home yet again.
Rather oddly, despite picking up Scottish games for nearly 10 years now, M. Raynal has yet to experience the unbridled pleasure that is officiating at Murrayfield with this being the fifth away fixture he has been the man in the middle for and his only game in Scotland being played in Aberdeen.
Scotland’s previous games with M. Raynal in charge:
- 2017 – 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: Fraser Brown (YC)
- 2018 – beat Argentina (A)
Penalties: 18 (For 10 – 8 Against)
- 2018 – lost to Wales (A)
Penalties: 25 (For 13 – 12 Against)
Cards: Wales 1 YC
- 2020 – lost to Ireland (A)
Penalties: 23 (For 9 – 14 Against)
Part II of the preview, including the head to heads, will follow later in the week, after the team announcements.
Scotland team: Rory Hutchinson, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Sam Johnson, Duhan Van der Merwe, Blair Kinghorn, Ben White; Pierre Schoeman, Dave Cherry, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist (capt), Rory Darge, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Javan Sebastian, Scott Cummings, Andy Christie, Ali Price, Ross Thompson, Kyle Rowe.