Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


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

Argentina v Scotland
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

KO 8.10pm BST (4.10pm local time)
Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades, Santiago del Estero
Saturday 16th July 2022

Live on Sky Sports Action

Scottish fans are getting to experience all the drama and emotions that can build across a three Test series. After the slowest of slow starts in Jujuy, Scotland seemed to click from just prior to half-time in Salta. That victory in the Second Test is one of the dark blues’ biggest ever winning margins away from home.

Scotland’s top ten biggest winning margins away from home:

  • 42 – USA (2002)
  • 38 – Canada (2018)
  • 34 – Georgia (2019)
  • 29 – Argentina (2018)
  • 23 – Argentina (2022)
  • 23 – Ireland (1984)
  • 20 – Romania (2005)
  • 18 – USA (2014)
  • 18 – France (1913)
  • 17 – Italy (2020)
  • 17 – Italy (2002)

Second Test Scouting Report

The Good

Levelling the series against Argentina last Saturday means that Scotland now have ten away wins against other Tier 1 nations in the last five years. To put that into context, the dark blues managed just 16 such victories in the other 22 years of the professional era.

Wins away v Tier 1 countries for each Scotland head coach in the pro era:

  • Towsend 10 wins / 21 matches
  • Cotter 3/12
  • Johnson 1/6
  • Robinson 4/11
  • Hadden 2/14
  • Williams 0/7
  • McGeechan 2/15
  • Telfer 2/6
  • Dixon 2/7

Yet another big away day is needed this week to bring home a first ever win in a three-match Test series.

Honourable mentions for – holding an opponent tryless for the first time since England at the start of the 2021 Six Nations; Kyle Rowe’s breakdown steal; and Ben White’s last 20 minutes prior to being subbed.

The Bad

There was a lot of positive play arising from the setpiece but three lost scrums (mainly technical offences rather than being overpowered) and four lost lineouts leave some room for improvement in Santiago. At scrum time the losses were at least offset by turning over possession on three Argentinian put ins but the home side only coughed up one of their own lineouts to leave Scotland at a disadvantage in this area.

The Ugly

Flipping things around this week, the ugly came from an Argentinian perspective in the form of the turnover count. Having been the beneficiaries in the opening game when Scotland coughed the ball up 14 times to the hosts’ 8, the Second Test saw this turn completely the other way as the Pumas handed over possession no fewer than 16 times – against just 8 for the visitors. Scotland were particularly efficient in this respect for the entirety of the second half.

First Test Scouting Report

Revisiting the scouting report from game number one in light of the response during the Second Test.

  • The Good – Mark Bennett and Rory Hutchinson. Benzo was back on the scoresheet again. Hutch had some nice work early on as the alternate playmaker but missed all the fun in the second half after going off injured.
  • The Bad – back row carrying. Big shifts from Rory Darge and Matt Fagerson who combined for 50 metres and four tackle breaks turned this one around.
  • The Ugly – 22% first half territory. The Scots were much quicker out of the blocks in Salta with 55% of the opening period taking place in Argentinian territory.
  • The Downright Weird -141 carries in the game. The sides combined for 222 runs – only around 7% lower than average for a Scotland game. The tempo the Scots built into the match was far better suited to the way they want to play.

Previous results

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


Most recent meeting in Argentina:

Argentina 6 – 29 Scotland


Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 1: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referee 2: Tual Tranini (France)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

The Second Test featured – Scotland finally winning the penalty count for the first time since game two of the 2021 Autumn Tests; native French speaker M. Raynal casually busting out both English and Spanish to communicate with the teams; and generally a pretty positive game. Mr O’Keeffe has a lot to live up to!

Scotland have plenty of previous with the Kiwi eye doctor so there shouldn’t be too many surprises in Santiago. In fact, one glaring exception apart, Mr O’Keeffe has been a bit of a lucky charm for the dark blues in terms of results. If the Scots take the series on Saturday then surely the SRU should be lobbying for the NZ whistler to take charge of next year’s RWC pool matches against either South Africa or Ireland…

Scotland’s previous games with Mr O’Keeffe in charge:

  • 2016 – beat Japan (A)
    Penalties: 27 (For 16 – 11 Against)
    Cards: Japan 2 YCs
  • 2016 – beat Argentina (H)
    Penalties: 20 (For 11 – 9 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2019 – lost to Japan (A)
    Penalties: 11 (For 7 – 4 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2020 – beat Italy (A)
    Penalties: 18 (For 8 – 10 Against)
    Cards: Italy 1 YC
  • 2022 – beat England (H)
  • Penalties: 18 (For 10 – 13 Against)
  • Cards: England 1 YC

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

Scotland: Ollie Smith, Rufus McLean, Mark Bennett, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Blair Kinghorn, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Ewan Ashman, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Rory Darge, Hamish Watson (capt), Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Dave Cherry, Pierre Schoeman, Javan Sebastian, Glen Young, Andy Christie, George Horne, Ross Thompson, Sam Johnson.

9 Responses

  1. The away win stats surprised me. It doesnt feel that way and thats perhaps down to frustration that we’ve not competed more with Wales and Ireland in recent times.

    Looking forward to seeing the team announced and hoping for the final game to build on what was good last week.

  2. Team

    IMO, Townsend doesn’t have enough cash in the bank, and Scotland don’t have the winning mentality needed to [POOP] about with the team as much as that.

    A chicken [POOP] team, just select the strongest side, go and show the intent to win the series.

    – edited for language

  3. So the conclusion from this latest team selection is that GT is using this tour to decide who is going to be in the squad building up to RWC rather than going full out to win this series. With Rowe injured and Graham concussed than guess McClean had to come in but Smith starting rather than redeploying Kinghorn at FB and Tuipulotu in at 12, back line is more experimental than strongest selection (and will avoid ranting about Hutchinson never given a chance there). Pleased Ashman is having some game time but not totally convinced by second row; Skinner more in form than Gray imo, but GT spoke about rotation. Back row can hopefully repeat/improve further from last week but Crosbie might be a bit unlucky not to be on bench but so many options there and Christie also worth looking at again. Still think it’s really important to win the series so hope the changes don’t reduce that possibility.

    1. I agree, yet his management of the srum halves really frustrates me. White had a great game, with Price coming in to see the game out. So what does he do? Chucks White out of the 23 and places Horne on the bench.

      I could’ve understood if he started with Horne with Price on the bench, but it’s something that really sticks in my craw.

      He knows everything there is to know about Price, and there is a very real danger if Price is injured that we are reliant on 9’s without serious experience.

  4. I think he just needs to give everyone a game, by all means change the bench. Oh well here we go Tombola spinning. I do not think Sutherland is fit and the scrum needs to be solid.

    1. I think you are right. If we dont have the scrum platform we will lose this game so Sutherland needs to be match fit.

  5. I rarely agree with Toony , however to take lads away and simply expect them to hug tackle bags , is a bit much. He had no choice, he made the right choice. I hope he gets the reward. He will, I am sure be up to his old tricks soon enough , however for now, I am with him and I hope the lads show us just what they can do.

  6. Let’s hope this is the last Tombola before the RWC. Even Toonie should have a good idea who his best 23 are. Surely.

  7. I fear it will not be the last, nor even close to it. After all, he’s got the autumn internationals, the 6N and some warm-up games in which to indulge in his beloved tinkering.

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