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.
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.
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:
W L L L L W W W
Most recent meeting in Edinburgh:
Scotland 14 – 9 Argentina
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.