Argentina v Scotland: tourists blow 15 point lead to lose summer Test series

Argentina 34 Scotland 31 THERE’S a million ways you can lose a rugby match and none of them are easy to swallow, but this was a particularly unpalatable experience from a Scottish perspective because to go 15-points up with half an hour to play and then blow it is not something that can be shrugged off as an unfortunate mishap. Argentina are a good side. There is plenty power and passion there. But they are not world beaters, and Scotland’s propensity to blow hot and cold from week to week, and often from minute to minute, is a major concern as the World Cup looms over the horizon. The really frustrating thing is that Scotland didn’t play badly. In fact, it was probably their best performance since beating England at the start of the Six Nations, but when they needed to adjust their game to suit the circumstances they didn’t. Argentina v Scotland: reaching 50 was a bumpy ride for Zander Fagerson Glasgow Warriors confirm the signing of Allan Dell Opinion: success is cyclical for Scotland at Under-20s level but there is always room for improvement With 10 minutes to go and immediately after Argentina had reduced Scotland’s advantage to four points, they kicked a penalty to the corner instead of taking the three points, rolled the line-out over the try-line but failed to get the ball down. Head coach Gregor Townsend pointed out afterwards that this approach had worked earlier in the match, but the dynamics of the game had moved on and some hard-nosed pragmatism was required. Scotland had helped keep Argentina in the fight. With four minutes to go, Ali Price – one of the team’s leaders – kicked a clearance from the base of a ruck just outside Scotland’s 22 straight out on the full, handing Argentina the attacking platform which which they ultimately scored the winning try through Edinburgh winger Emiliano Boffelli. Another self-inflicted wound. Restart receipts and line-outs have been a problem throughout this tour, and they killed Scotland again in this match, which captain Hamish Watson acknowledged was a major contributing factor to his team’s undoing. “We were good in attack but at the end of the day we were the architects of our own downfall,” he lamented. “We got 15 points up and couldn’t kick on from there. “We didn’t bank the points after scoring by securing the kick-off, and we just gifted them points which let them back into the game. And when we got down to their end, on a number of occasions we were five yards out from the try-line, but our-set-piece wasn’t good enough today either. If you don’t have a good set-piece in Test rugby, and you can’t win your line-out, you are going to struggle. “Full credit to Argentina, they are a good team and a proud nation, so we knew they were going to stick in the battle,” he added “We knew when we went 15 points up that they were going to come back so it didn’t surprise us – but we didn’t cope with it well enough. “From our point of view, we just need to stick together because we’ve got four massive games coming up in the Autumn, including Argentina again.”   For the third match on the bounce, Argentina were quicker out the blocks and if Boffelli had managed to hold on to the final pass following a powerful break from Matias Moroni then he would surely have scored in the corner with just four minutes played. The winger had to make do instead with a 52-yard penalty a couple of minutes later following an Ali Price offside. That seemed to shake Scotland out of their early match slumber, and from their first real period of possession they scored a fine try when Blair Kinghorn jinked through a dog-led in Argentina’s defence line then offloaded to Duhan can der Merwe, who still had plenty of work to do and showed plenty of pace and power as he rampaged to the try-line. Kinghorn added the conversion. Now it was Argentina’s turn to bounce right back, with Bautista Delguy expertly scooping up Kinghorn’s hack ahead to launch a coruscating counter-attack which culminated in Santiago Carreras cruising under the posts off an excellent offload from Boffelli. Scotland lost two line-out in the opening 20 minutes but backed themselves when they picked up a kickable penalty early in the second quarter, and fortune did indeed favour the brave on this occasion, with the throw to the front being collected unchallenged by Scott Cummings, setting up a maul which powered over the Pumas line for Ewan Ashman to claim the try. Momentum continued to swing from one side to the other, and when Rufus McLean found himself isolated and ended up being penalised for holding onto the ball on the deck, Boffelli stepped forward to narrow the gap to a single point. Scotland had two chances to finish the first half on a high. First they kicked another penalty to the corner, but on this occasion the throw to the tail was picked off by the Pumas. Then they opted to go for the sticks from yet another penalty on halfway  but Kinghorn’s effort came back off the crossbar.   Scotland took what should have been an unbreakable stranglehold of the game at the start of that second period, with van der Merwe and Ashman each getting their second tries at the end of some impressive passages of continuity rugby, but Argentina would not lie down. Mark Bennett gave away an obstruction penalty at the restart and the Pumas kicked to the corner then pulled a try back when replacement prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro burrowed over just a minute after he had joined the fray. A Kinghorn penalty kept Scotland’s side of the scoreboard ticking over but another malfunction at the restart, when McLean was clattered as he caught the ball on the touchline and gave away a holding-on penalty, put Argentina back on the front foot. After a period of pressure the hosts pulled another try back through replacement scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou sniping over from the base of a ruck. Argentina spent the final five minutes pushing hard for the try they needed to clinch the series and earned a very kickable penalty five metres from the Scottish line with two minutes to go, but three points wouldn’t be enough so they opted for a scrum, and it was from this set-piece Boffelli scored the all-important try. Townsend was keen to accentuate the positives but accepted that Scotland had nobody to blame for this result but themselves. “We are obviously really disappointed because we were ahead for most of that game and we had chances to score the try we needed but we were held up over the line,” he said. “And we had chances to be more efficient with our exiting in the last 20 minutes, so that was disappointing “I feel so sorry for the players because so much of our play tonight was full of courage and skill. It was our best display of the tour, and it would have been a famous win, but the feeling now is the opposite of that. The way we played tonight, away from home in front of a noisy crowd, against a very good side – I am so proud of the effort. “But we just need to make sure that we win these games when we have dominated for so long.” “Each game we have got better on this tour, we have given some young players experiences of Test rugby, and some of them have really stood up so there is some real positives to come out of it. “If you are on the receiving end of a last minute try it is going to feel terrible but you have to look at the context of the overall performance, and there was a lot to be proud of tonight in that performance.”   Teams – Argentina: J Mallia; B Delguy (L Cinti 50), M Orlando, M Moroni, E Boffelli; S Carreras, L Bazan Velez (G Bertanou 61); T Gallo (N Tetez Chaparro 50), A Creevy (I Ruiz 58, J Gonzalez 68), J Sclavi ( F Gomez Kodela 50), G Petti, T Lavanni (M Kremer 50), P Matera, S Grondona, F Isa. Scotland: O Smith (R Thompson 75); R McLean, M Bennett, S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, A Price; R Sutherland (P Schoeman 52), E Ashman (D Cherry, 52), Z Fagerson, S Cummings (G Youn 69), J Gray, R Darge, H Watson (A Christie 75), M Fagerson. Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)   Scorers – Argentina: Tries: Carreras, Chaparro, Bertanou, Boffelli; Con: Boffelli 4; Pen: Boffelli 2. Scotland: Tries: Van der Merwe 2, Ashman 2; Con: Kinghorn 4; Pen: Kinghorn.. Scoring sequence (Argentina first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-7; 8-7; 10-7; 10-12; 10-14; 13-14 (h-t) 13-19; 13-21; 13-26; 13-28; 18-28; 20-28; 20-31; 25-31; 27-31; 32-31; 34-31. Senior academy class for 2022-23 season announced The post Argentina v Scotland: tourists blow 15 point lead to lose summer Test series appeared first on The Offside Line.