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Scotland v Argentina: Autumn Nations Series 2022, Match Preview pt I

Scotland vs Argentina - graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog
Scotland vs Argentina - graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

KO 3.15 at BT Murrayfield
Saturday 19th November 2022

Live on Amazon Prime Video

Well this feels familiar! For the fourth and final time this year, the Scottish Rugby Blog tackles a match preview for a Scotland clash with Argentina. This time round there are home comforts to fall back on plus (barring an early baby arrival) three more Lions available for Scotland’s backline.

Will that be enough to turn around what ultimately ended as a series defeat in South America? There’s no question that the dark blues should have seen out the 3rd Test after working their way into a 28-13 lead in that game. After a tough year that has seen too many victories slip from their grasp, a win is essential to finish on a high.

Occasions Scotland have played the same opponent 3+ times in the same calendar year:

  • 2004 Played Australia 4 times – losing all 4
  • 2015 Played Italy 3 times – winning 2, losing 1
  • 2019 Played France 3 times – winning 1, losing 2
  • 2022 Played Argentina 3 times (so far) – winning 1, losing 2

Argentina Scouting Report

Taking it Slow

The 1st Test between these two sides during the summer was the slowest game of the Townsend era. The combined number of carries made by the teams was 141, nearly 100 fewer than Scotland’s average. Overall match events (kicks + passes + carries + tackles + rucks + mauls + scrums + lineouts) totalled 728 – the lowest in the last five years and more than 400 down on the average for that period!

Argentina’s excellent win against England a fortnight ago was similarly slow. From the 19th minute until half-time (24 minutes and 58 seconds of game time) the ball was in play for just 6 minutes and 5 seconds. That was less game time than was spent in that same period on both scrums (7m 49s) and kicks at goal (7m 58s).

For their last two matches, against Fiji and New Zealand, in many ways, there has been no great benefit to Scotland speeding things up and risking playing into their opponents’ hands. This time around it feels like the dark blues need to play fast and pressure the Pumas’ veteran pack. This is no panacea though – the Argentinian backline has plenty of threats and will be happy to punish any loose play.

Kick-off Contest

When you are only making a grand total of 157 metres ball in hand from just 47 carries – as Argentina did against England – you need to find alternative ways to progress up the pitch. One of the ways the Pumas tried to win themselves field position was by heavily targeting contesting and recovering their own kick-offs. Two of their first-half penalties started with forcing errors from the catcher, allowing Argentina to slot two penalties without having to make any ground with ball in hand.

They were at it again versus Wales, winning back a couple of their restarts and making the home side’s life extremely difficult each time. The Pumas also went in heavily on their kicking game to try and eke out the best positions to attack from, with 39 kicks from hand – the Welsh kicked the ball 35 times as they sought to counter their visitors’ approach.

Given Scotland’s struggles with kick-off receptions it seems almost a certainty that they will need to cope with an onslaught as Argentina send aerial specialists like Emiliano Boffelli after the ball. So far in the Autumn Nations Series, the Scots have been reasonably good at consolidating after scoring. They will need to step up another level for this game to see off the challenge the Pumas will bring.

Locking it Down

The big men in the boiler room sometimes get overlooked when it comes to praising player contributions. Back rows pack out their highlight reels with breakdown steals. Front rows take all the plaudits when the scrum does well. At every juncture though, the second rows have to be to the fore as the workhorses of the team. Crucial to the setpiece. Equally vital in the loose.

For the visitors, Tomas Lavanini may be missing his usual partner, Guido Petti, but Matias Alemanno has proved to be a useful foil during the Autumn Tests. Argentina’s hesitancy to get the ball in their hands has meant there hasn’t been too much carrying for the giant-sized duo. Lavanini has just 5 carries for 3 metres with Alemanno on 7 for 1m gained during the Autumn Nations Series. In defence though, both men have been a key part of bodies on the line defence for the Pumas, nailing 38 tackles without a single miss so far in their games in the UK.

Scotland will need to counter the physicality of their opponents’ lock pairing. That won’t be helped by having lost Scott Cummings before the Autumn Nations Series began, Sam Skinner after the Australia game and now Richie Gray being suspended following last Sunday’s loss to the All Blacks. Will Gregor Townsend opt to partner the fairly similar styles of play of Grant Gilchrist and Jonny Gray? Or might there be a starting place for Glen Young and a chance to make amends for his yellow card against the Wallabies.


  • Possible areas for Scotland to target:
    • The Argentinian back row have missed 16 tackles so far in this Autumn Nations Series.
    • Santiago Carreras has coughed up 7 turnovers across 2 games.
    • Tighthead prop Francisco Gomez Kodela conceded 4 penalties in his side’s games against England and Wales.
  • The Pumas are 10/10 on their own put-in at scrums during November. They were also perfect in the lineout versus England but did lose the ball 3 times to the Welsh (from 19 throws).
  • Emiliano Boffelli has scored 33 of his side’s 43 points this Autumn. The winger / full back is in line to play his 31st match (including 12 Tests) of 2022 – so far! It was a surprise not to see him on World Rugby’s shortlist for player of the year.

Previous results

This will be the ninth time the two sides have met at Murrayfield. The head to head looks like this from the home side’s perspective:


Most recent meeting in Edinburgh:

Scotland 14 – 9 Argentina

Significant stat
222 – the number of tackles attempted by Scotland. The home side were worked over by a Pumas’ team that dominated possession (60%) and territory (58%). The forwards’ workload was particularly heavy, accounting for 155 of those tackles, but even the backs were having to put in a shift with centre pairing Finn Russell and Huw Jones making a combined 22 hits.

Argentinian wastefulness from the kicking tee stopped them from taking full advantage of their dominance, only notching 3 of their 7 shots at goal. Scotland will need to play much better at Murrayfield on Saturday as King Boff is unlikely to be as generous with penalty misses!

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


Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referee 1: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referee 2: Ian Tempest (England)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

For the third week running, Scotland will be refereed by a former professional scrum half. What is that makes so many chippy, mouthy types with Napoleon complexes go on to take on a job that involves telling everyone else on the pitch what to do? Perhaps we’ll never know.

Mr Dickson has already visited Murrayfield this year, when he reffed his first ever Scotland match during the Six Nations. That game against France should at least mean that Ali Price knows that the English official doesn’t like scrum halves trying to buy penalties – even when there is a blatant offence being committed by the opposition…

Scotland’s previous game with Mr Dickson in charge:

  • 2022 – lost to France (H)
    Penalties: 21 (For 9 – 12 Against)
    Cards: no cards


Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Pierre Schoeman, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie (capt), Jack Dempsey.
Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Murphy Walker, Glen Young, Andy Christie, Ben White, Blair Kinghorn, Cameron Redpath.

Argentina: J Mallia; B Delguy, M Orlando, J de la Fuente, E Boffelli; S Carreras, G Bertranou; T Gallo, J Montoya (captain), E Bello, M Alemanno, T Lavanini, J Gonzalez, M Kremer, P Matera.
Replacements: Substitutes: I Ruiz, N Tetaz Chaparro, S Medrano, L Paulos, F Isa, L Bazan Velez, N Sanchez, M Moroni.

35 Responses

  1. Simple isn’t it, big ball carriers challenging and breaching the gain line then quick ball to Russell Hogg Graham and VDM.
    Do that and we’ll win, no Garry Owens to the imperious Boffelli.

    1. Yep…but do you know any big ball carrying forwards in the squad?
      Instead we are blessed with GG and J Gray……who my granny would challenge for mobility….sigh!
      I see we are continuing with 2x 13s…instead of a natural 12 who will be sitting reading the match day programme.
      Andy Christie who is struggling to get game time at Sarries in ahead of Crosbie who has been consistantly playing great at his club.
      Price…who will continually hoof the ball back to Bofelli to run right back at us. No Horne.. in great form and can kick the ball accurately..if Russell goes down we’ve got Kickhorn instead.

  2. Crosbie has been doing exactly the hard carrying role for Edinburgh and he’s 6ft 6in, lose your best LO operator and dont replace the absent LO height/expertise . M.Fagerson has done nothing wrong and has done alright in the precious games but he simply lacks physicality. Haining is also very physical fellow. Argentina have a 6ft 7″ fellow in their backrow……..Vs NZ the solid midfield sort of worked as Hogg was popping up all over the place, however I’m fed up moaning about the centres…….

    1. I think Matt Fagerson has been consistently out best back row for a number of games. I don’t buy this lack of physicality stuff anymore – when he was younger it was true but he was so young when he broke through.

      Agree I would like to see Crosbie get a shot but Townsend has gone for consistency, which is fair enough really.

      1. I agree Fagerson has done fine FF, however we lost V a very beatable Australia (as Italy demonstrated) struggled V Fiji and lost v NZ, this is not Fagersons fault but IMO it shows that perhaps somethings no right in the team.

      2. I think we almost beat NZ despite the pack not fully punching the holes we need them to. The consistent back selection suggests we’ll be trying to go round them again in case the pack fail to get over the line from close range given chances. Problem is this makes us easy to defend as you can drift out to the wing where the attack inevitably ends up – hence why our back three seem to get turned over/isolated quite a lot. (Cue big line breaks from Harris and Sione this weekend!)

      3. Rory 100% correct, Hogg will pop up all over the place, we will be looking to play round them but…………. Tuipulotu hamstrung by playing 12, Harris…………. lack of line out options (especially at the back of the line out) makes it more difficult.
        Relying on flashes of inspiration

      4. The thing ,imo, with playing 2 13s who dont distribute especially well is that if the 10 channel is shut down there is a real lack of threat from the midfield…and ,seems to me, makes it very hard to utilize any available space. Redpath seems fine defensively from what ive seen…I dont get why he isnt trusted.

      5. Last Sunday “it” sort of worked as Hogg was given a free role and came into the line very often, however NZ gave us the opportunity to play this loose unstructured game.
        Anyone else will be structured, bring Hogg into the line by short box kicks and overloading Russell (as centres pose little threat).
        Luckily Hogg and Russell can be brilliant and we have 2 world class wingers so we’re in with a lash

      6. Yes…in some ways in brought Hogg’s best skill set into play…however I also felt like to do that he had to play a higher line as a FB ..and to me that leaves space behind him…for what is his weak skill ..defense. His runs still have to come from a deeper spot than an attacking midfielder would for the most part. A distributer would threaten space and create channels for him better imo.
        For Tui to improve as a 12 he really should be playing that slot consistantly for club …and not just thrown in there at test level.
        Anyhoo…what do I know. It just frustrates me that we seem to have reverted to worrying more about what the opposition can do than we should and its compromising our go forward and attacking options which are the most plentiful they’ve been in recent memory.

  3. Injuries aside (not sure if Ashman is still carrying a knock, which was offered as a reason for his bench slot last week? Don’t get it; if fit, you can be selected, if injured/not fit, you shouldn’t be in the match day squad as could be called on in the first few minutes) main grumbles are still no proper 12, no Crosbie on the bench and Young as replacement lock. Admittedly, Hunter-Hill only been in camp a few days but not totally convinced by Young’s first autumn outing but suppose anyone can have a suspect game. Starting second row not exactly first choice but hopefully will prove us doubters wrong. Will be interesting to see how Finn goes with a consistent midfield- amazingly consistent at 2 matches, by GT’s standards – and fingers crossed we use the back 3 effectively again and can find that cutting edge when I’m the opposition 22. As usual, lots of hope and ifs, not matched by the level of expectation.

  4. Matt Fagerson is one of our most physical back rows for some time.
    Just because he’s not huge – he gets over the ball at the breakdown and has a step so usually beats the 1st man.
    Dempsey is also a ball carrier.

  5. Almost the strongest pack available. RG for Gilchrist would be my one ideal change (if fitness had allowed).

    Almost the strongest backs available – I’d never have landed on this midfield pairing (given the various options over the years) but let’s see how consistency goes and Redpath is on the bench.

    At home, with this team, should be putting Argentina to the sword. It is an expected and therefore must win for a side with any aspirations.

    Remarkably untoonbolla.

    1. Needs to be at least three scores difference. A few old heads that inspre, like Creavy are missing. Pity, I would want to play against the best they can field.

      1. What nonsense. It will not be a runaway 3 scores or whatever , likely to be a turgid kicking affair with ball hogging causing us to fail as often as we succeed.

  6. Tuipulotu is not a 12, all his strengths are 13 skills. Harris has no attacking flair, solid defensively but……..
    Redpath should be at 12, his ball playing ability should enable our back 3 to feed off good front foot ball.
    Hogg is a brilliant attacking outlet, play a game that extenuates this

  7. I like this team it’s well balanced and i have high hopes, particularly pleased to see Christie and Walker make the bench.

      1. @SAM: I think he disagrees with you Sam. You do not need to do anything , just tell him that you are not convinced. My opinion, for what it is worth, is, that I welcome continuity in any Toony Selection. Which might just be saying the same as you for entirely different reasons. Balanced or not it tells me the coach is showing some rationale and that for me is worth more than another role of the dice to get the balance a smidge better.

  8. Ponderings…….
    with a view to the 6N ,particularly, the world cup what have we learnt in the 3 games thus far……..
    Apart from Russell unquestionably being the best stand off and Richie Gray the best line out option………no much I reckon.
    Redpath should’ve started v NZ and Argentina, with our back 3 very dangerous you want ball to them and smoothly and quickly as possible. Having a 2nd 5/8 playmaker is a very fine addition to our backrow options.
    I still think a centre partnership which includes Harris somewhat hamstrings our attacking intent.
    Crosbie should’ve had proper game time too

    1. I agree entirely with that summary.
      Only thing I would add is a concern that over four matches we have used the same two wings.We know DVDM and Graham are world class-but equally we have to build depth as its unlikely they will escape the vagaries of injuries.These were the matches to give some game time to Maclean and/or Steyn in case they need to be thrown into a 6N match. Certainly one or other should have been give time either against Fiji or tomorrow.

  9. A load of pish being talked about on here about Harris. At this level (against the top 8 teams) defences win games and he is arguably the best defensive centre around. I’d much rather win 12-9 than lose 35-32. In any case, with the likes of Hogg, VDM and Graham (and Russell) this looks a well balanced backline.
    I’d have liked to see Redpath at 12 but I for one am glad to see a bit of consistency in selection, and Sione did nothing wrong and quite a bit right against the ABs so deserves to keep the jersey.
    For the first time in a long time Toonie has only made changes because of injury or unavailability. There’s a lot to be said for keeping the same team that nearly, but for an unlucky yellow card, beat NZ.

    1. Sir, I accept your points
      ………however 2022 has been a pretty ordinary year result wise for Scotland and we appear to be preparing for SA and Ireland in next years WC by having a purely defensive centre partnership.
      As someone else stated “there’s a good team in there” 4 wins out of 11 in 2022 is not good and GT seems no further forward in finding a better team.

    2. For me ..I agree and disagree.

      Winning 12-9 to reach the latter stages of a RWC …sure I’d take that…a hollow victory but necessary..providing that’s not the norm. Consistantly playing turgid rugby for results…urgh sounds awful.Winning like that in an autumn series friendly ?….no thanks. I’d rather watch an entertaining performance and lose.

    3. I wouldn’t say our back division is well balanced. Having Tuipulotu and Harris at 12 and 13 is apt to put too great an onus on Finn (assuming Toony doesn’t drop him again…) to create the spark in attack.

      Having a second playmaker at 12 would ease the burden on Russell by giving us options that just don’t exist at the moment. And that, in turn. would cause a few extra defensive headaches for whomever we’re up against. So for my two-penn’orth it ought to be Redpath or Hutchinson at 12.

      One more thing: I hate to say it but rare will be the occasion that we limit a top side to a mere 9 (or 12 or 15) points in a competitive Test. We’re just not powerful enough up front to prevail in Tests that descend into arm-wrestling contests.

    4. Yeah you are right about your initial observation…people in glass houses. How many points did we ship last week with Harris playing.I’ll leave it at that.

    5. You canny see Redpath at 12 because we need a couple of dumper trucks in the centre to tackle. When Hogg goes we might manage to see more balance. Till then, live with it, it is not bad at all.

  10. Replying to JM-yes I agree not much depth on the wing.Thus we must build it.Maclean has hardly played this season (Steyn even less) and not setting things on fire in the way he did at the start of his Glasgow career.But with Rowe injured long term really no one else.In fact I suspect if one of Graham or DVDM pulled out he’d more likely start Kinghorn (actually wouldn’t surprise me if he gives him 10/15mins on the wing tomorrow depending on how the game is going).

  11. Argentina are a good side but if we back up the performance of last weekend we should win by more than a score.

    To win a 6N we’ll have to find a level of consistency we haven’t and rarely do so this is a challenge for the team

  12. If I were Cheika I’d double/treble team Russell and box kick high and short (to bring Hogg into traffic), really target the line-out

    1. I agree…and I think we’ll see those tactics.

      Will be interesting to see how the line out goes without R Gray. My money would be on it reverting to the horrible line out we’ve seen all year..

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