Argentina v Scotland: tourists bounce back to take Test series to a the wire

Argentina 6 Scotland 29 GREGOR TOWNSEND claimed that his Scotland side only scratched the surface of what they are really capable of when scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half of this clash to secure a comprehensive victory which squared the series, setting up a winner-takes-all third and final Test in Santiago next Saturday night. The tourists were under pressure after a lacklustre performance in defeat to the Pumas in the series opener last weekend, and they remained out of sorts for the vast majority of the first half of this game, although a try by Hamish Watson – who celebrated his 50th cap with a man of the match performance – gave them a two-point lead at the break. They then fired out of the blocks at the start of the second half, playing with conviction and tempo, to score three more tries through Mark Bennett, Matt Fagerson and Sam Johnson. Argentina kept plugging away but a combination of Scotland’s determined defence and the hosts’ inaccuracies at key moments meant that the Pumas failed to trouble the scoreboard operator during that second period (although they did have two tries chalked off by the TMO, lose the ball over the line twice and were held up over the line once). Sevens teams for Commonwealth Games announced Edinburgh appoint Michael Todd as defence coach Six Nations U20 Summer Series: Scotland hammered by Georgia “I’m satisfied with the result and especially with how we started the second half,” said Townsend afterwards. “We started the game well, but it was a mixed performance after that, and then at the beginning of the second half we really took the ball to them. I thought some of the running lines and some of the effort in contact was outstanding. “We’ve lots of areas to improve but to win a Test match in Argentina takes a lot of hard work so a real credit to our team for that today. There is a lot of togetherness in the squad. You could see that with how they reacted to tries or when they were defending their own line. They are a group who care about each other but also care about playing for their country. “We knew we would get a response this week, with how the players had trained and how committed they were to improving. We can improve further, though, we’re just scratching the surface with that performance, and we’ll be really working to bring our best performance out next week. “I thought our pack wad outstanding, the back-row in particular, up against a quality opposition and away from home in tiring conditions. So, it is a good foundation to build on next week and next season.” A dark cloud on an otherwise glorious day for the tourists was the injury to Kyle Rowe, who came off the bench late in the first half, but was the forced to retire from the game 10 minutes later. “For Kyle Rowe, on his first cap, to pick up a serious injury we really feel for him,” added Townsend. “He was so proud to get this opportunity and he played well when he was on with a crucial jackal before half-time, so it is really unfortunate for him to pick up an injury and I’m sure he’ll miss next week. Rory Hutchinson is a doubt as well, but we’ve got a big squad so someone will get an opportunity. Townsend added that it is unlikely that changes for next week will be limited to those forced by injury. “There is players who deserve opportunities, who missed today – like Jonny Gray who has played a lot of rugby for us – so we know we will have guys who are very motivated to improve on what we did today so that we take home this series. “We’ve just got be better,” he concluded. “We were better today than we were last week, and we’ve got to be better again next week.” This win secured an unprecedented away from home clean-sweep for the northern hemisphere sides against their southern hemisphere rivals yesterday, with France beating Japan, Ireland beating New Zealand, England beating Australia and Wales beating South Africa earlier in the day.   Scotland started well and edged into a third minute lead after a good clearance from Ben White and an excellent scrum established the field position for Blair Kinghorn to fire him an offside penalty, but then a neck-roll from skipper Grant Gilchrist allowed Emiliano Boffelli to square the contest just two minutes later, killing that promising early momentum. The line-out was scrappy, at best, and when they eventually did manage to string a sequence of phases together a mix-up in midfield between Sam Johnson and Mark Bennett saw Scotland surrender 40 easy yards. A moment of magic from Darcy Graham, when he leaped heroically to claim White’s box kick, created Scotland’s first proper attack midway through the first half, but when the ball was shipped left, Duhan van der Merwe allowed himself to be squeezed into touch. It was all just a bit hesitant, leading to a high error count which meant Argentina were never really stretched for any meaningful length of time in defence. A high tackle by White on Rodrigo Bruni handed Boffelli three easy points to Argentina just after the half hour, but this time Scotland responded positively, turning down three easy points following an offside by Gonzalo Bertanou and going for the corner instead. It was a bold which paid off when Watson burrowed over from the line-out drive. Kinghorn’s conversion floated harmlessly to the right of the posts, but Scotland were ahead, which was important psychologically after dominating possession during that first period without managing to click as an attacking force. In a repeat of last week, Scotland fired out of the blocks straight after half-time and quickly stretched their lead when some hard running and fast recycling culminated in White feeding Mark Bennett on a brilliant line, for the outside centre to zip home for his second try in two weeks. A Rory Darge and Watson double tackle then won a scrum as the visitors turned up the heat, but Argentina were not going to go down without a fight, and they thought they had pulled a try back through the rampaging Guido Petti, only for the TMO to identify a forward pass earlier in the move. Argentina were then reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Boffelli was sin-binned after referee Mathieu Reynard lost patience with the number of penalties the home side were conceding, and Scotland took advantage with Fagerson muscling over for try number three. Despite being a man down, Argentina battled their way onto the front foot and a last gasp tackle by Darge on Santiago Carreras was required to dislodge the ball in the act of scoring just before the hour mark. Scotland then won a huge penalty at the scrum-five which should have allowed them to clear the danger, but they lost the line-out – a recurring theme in this match – which meant absorbing another period of pressure Sam Johnson then repeated the trick of his midfield partner Bennett earlier in the half when he hit a great angle to score under the posts which killed off the match off as a contest. Scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou and replacement hooker Agustin Creevy had other ideas, however, with the former getting over the line but then failing to get the ball down, and the latter managing something similar although the TMO was required on this occasion to make the final decision. Then, with four minutes to go, Bennett managed to rip the ball from Boffelli as he tried to wrestle his way to the ground inside the Scottish in-goal area.   Teams – Argentina: E Boffelli; S Cordero, M Orlando, J de la Fuente (M Moroni 69), J Imhoff (D Miotti 76); S Carreras, G Bertranou (F Ezcurra 72); N Tetaz Chaparro (M Vivas 50), J Montoya (A Creevy 55), F Gomez Kodela (J Sclavi 55), G Petti, M Alemanno (L Paulos, 68), JM Gonzalez Samso, M Kremer, R Bruni (F Isa 46). Scotland: R Hutchinson (K Rowe 39, R Thompson 49); D Graham, M Bennett, S Johnson, D van der Merwe; B Kinghorn, B White (A Price 58); P Schoeman (J Bhatti 69), D Cherry (G Turner 58), Z Fagerson (J Sebastian 69), S Skinner, G Gilchrist (S Cummings 69), R Darge, H Watson (A Christie 70), M Fagerson. Referee: Mathieu Raynal   Scorers – Argentina: Pen: Boffelli 2 Scotland: Try: Watson, Bennett, Fagerson, Johnson; Pen: Kinghorn; Con: Kinghorn, Thompson 2. Scoring sequence (Argentina first): 0-3; 3-3; 6-3; 6-8 (h-t) 6-13; 6-15; 6-20; 6-22; 6-27; 6-29. Yellow cards – Argentina: Boffelli (51mins) Sevens teams for Commonwealth Games announced The post Argentina v Scotland: tourists bounce back to take Test series to a the wire appeared first on The Offside Line.