|2018 Autumn internationals|
|Scotland (6) 14|
|Try: Maitland Pens: Laidlaw 3|
|Argentina (3) 9|
|Pens: Sanchez 3|
Scotland clung on to finish their autumn series with a nervy and turgid victory over Argentina at Murrayfield.
Sean Maitland ran in the game’s only try with 15 minutes remaining.
Greig Laidlaw had given the Scots a 9-6 lead with his three penalties trumping two by Nicolas Sanchez, who missed three further shots from the tee.
The Pumas fly-half kicked his side back within a score in the 74th minute, but Scotland did just enough to withstand a late Argentine onslaught.
It means Gregor Townsend’s side end their November programme with two wins – the other coming against Fiji – and two defeats, by Wales and South Africa respectively.
‘Tricky conditions don’t excuse putrid rugby’
The hard rain that fell pre-match and then drizzled down for parts of the game undoubtedly made for tricky conditions, but the putridity of much of what went on out there couldn’t be put down solely to a wet ball. That one moment of class, finished off by Maitland, shone like a beacon on a dreary day.
Laidlaw put Scotland ahead with an early penalty. Sanchez missed a sitter in front of the posts to level soon after.
Scotland played conservatively, kicking often and kicking poorly and rarely finding the precision to unleash their danger men to stretch the Pumas. When they tried to move the ball, it ended sloppily. There was no direction, no control. Adam Hastings kicked erratically at 10 and Finn Russell’s influence at 12 was limited.
The Scots needed some creativity, accuracy and grunt up front and they didn’t get any of those things until the bench was utilised later on. The experiment with Hastings at half-back and in the midfield lasted an hour when Alex Dunbar came on for Hastings, allowing Russell to return to fly-half.
The influence of the conditions was obvious, but it cant be overdone as an excuse. The Scotland forwards couldn’t get on the ball, couldn’t drive it up the guts of an equally limited Pumas. After half an hour, the visitors had 70% possession to Scotland’s 30%. They also had parity after Sanchez banged over a penalty.
If anything, Scotland were fortunate to be level. By the time that Sanchez made it 3-3, the hosts could – and should – have had Fraser Brown in the bin for a swinging arm tackle. Finally, some composure in attack brought another shot at goal from Laidlaw, who duly did the necessary.
That kick was cancelled out just after the break by Sanchez, however. That penalty had its origins in another Scotland error on a day that brought an incalculable amount of handling blunders. It was static, mistake-ridden stuff, low on ambition and accuracy and entertainment. It was, in many senses, the polar opposite of what Scotland normally are.
‘An ugly and forgettable victory’
Sanchez had a chance to put Argentina ahead, but failed to take it, a mistake that Laidlaw was never likely to make when he had his moment. The scrum-half inched Scotland ahead 9-6 after 54 minutes.
Townsend made the first raft of changes. Among them was the removal of Josh Strauss. The number eight had a chance to drive himself back into his coach’s thinking in this Test – his first start for 17 months – and it’s fair to say that he singularly failed to take it.
The game-breaker came just after the hour, dropping surprisingly but welcomingly from the Edinburgh skies. Scotland had punched into the Argentina 22. Laidlaw was about to go left from the ruck when he got a call from Stuart Hogg, standing free on the short side with Maitland outside him. A quick switch and Maitland was over.
Laidlaw hit the crossbar with the conversion. Then, Sanchez missed again. A let-off. The Pumas fly-half made it 14-9 with six minutes left and threatened to pull it out of the fire. They got their dangerous runners on the ball and gave Scotland palpitations in two separate attacks.
Scotland hung on for a victory that will look nice in the record books, but in reality, this was ugly and forgettable.
Scotland: 15-Hogg, 14-Maitland, 13-Jones, 12-Russell, 11-Kinghorn, 10-Hastings, 9-Laidlaw (captain); 1-Dell, 2-Brown, 3-Berghan, 4-Gilchrist, 5-Gray, 6-Ritchie, 7-Watson, 8-Strauss
Replacements: 16-McInally, 17-Allan, 18-Nel, 19-Skinner, 20-Wilson, 21-Horne, 22-Dunbar, 23-McGuigan
Argentina: 15-Boffelli, 14-Delguy, 13-Moroni, 12-De la Fuente, 11-Moyano, 10-Sanchez 9 – Bertranou; 1-Garcia Botta, 2-Creevy, 3-Medrano, 4-Petti, 5-Lavanini, 6-Matera (captain), 7-Bruni, 8-Ortega Desio
Replacements: 16-Montoya, 17-Zeiss, 18-Sordoni, 19-Alemanno, 20-Lezana, 21-Landajo, 22-Orlando, 23-Cancelliere
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Dan Jones (Wales)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Scotland clung on to finish their autumn series with a nervy and turgid victory over Argentina at Murrayfield. Sean Maitland ran in the game’s only try with 15 minutes remaining. Greig Laidlaw had given the Scots a 9-6 lead with his three penalties trumping two by Nicolas Sanchez, who missed three further shots from the tee.