Inspired Scotland Post Superb Victory

Argentina 14 Scotland 26 Scotland produced an inspired backs-to-the-wall performance to record their first victory in a cap international in Argentina at the Velez Sarsfield Stadium in Buenos Aires tonight. It was, too, their first victory against the Pumas for 18 years and their first away tour Test success against a major player in the Southern Hemisphere for 26 years - representing the perfect 54th birthday present for head coach Frank Hadden and giving something tangible to the twin achievements of Chris Paterson, with his record-breaking 88th cap and skipper Mike Blair with his 50th.

Argentina 14 - 26 Scotland

Scotland produced an inspired backs-to-the-wall performance to record their first victory in a cap international in Argentina at the Velez Sarsfield Stadium in Buenos Aires tonight.

It was, too, their first victory against the Pumas for 18 years and their first away tour Test success against a major player in the Southern Hemisphere for 26 years - representing the perfect 54th birthday present for head coach Frank Hadden and giving something tangible to the twin achievements of Chris Paterson, with his record-breaking 88th cap and skipper Mike Blair with his 50th.

Scotland's points came from tries by hooker Ross Ford and centre Graeme Morrison, while there were 16 points (and normal pinpoint accuracy restored) from Paterson's unerring boot.

The anger and collective determination which Scotland players had spoken of in the lead-up to the game was no mere sound-bite and the unyielding resolve, especially when under the cosh for long periods in defence, characterised a performance which was also sprinkled with wit and invention.

"It's important not to under-estimate the size of this achievement," Hadden noted at the post-match media conference, _x001C_given that we're the only northern hemisphere country to win a Test match against a southern hemisphere country today and we did it against the third best country in the world in front of a packed house of their fanatical supporters, so we're rightly proud of that._x001D_

Blair, who upped the tempo of the game when it was most needed, added: _x001C_Mossy (Paterson) and I had a chat before the game and said it (their cap landmarks) would mean nothing if we did not win. Mossy once again showed today how important he is to the Scottish cause._x001D_

Where there had been a lack of precision at the breakdown in Rosario, Scotland today were, for the most part, clinical in their execution. The Pumas had very little opportunity to get at Blair (on one occasion when they did so illegally at second phase they were penalised by Alain Rolland) and quick ball was the welcome consequence.

Once again the Scots' scrummage was immense, given everything that that part of the game means to the Argentine psyche, and the lineout, occasional stutter apart, went well, so much credit for coach Andy Robinson in his preparation of such a tigerish pack.

Not a bad swansong, either, for Alan Tait, who is standing down from his duties as defence coach to join Newcastle Falcons. Tait had spoken movingly 24 hours beforehand of _x001C_the one thing about Scottish players and why you enjoy coaching them is they never give you anything less than 100% and their attitude is always superb._x001D_ Tonight's display was the embodiment of that tribute.

The Velez Sarsfield Stadium had a capacity 46,000 crowd packed in but Scotland's start once again helped to keep the passionate home support a tad subdued, Paterson landing a close-range scrum collapse penalty in the 7th minute with a great deal more ease than the swirling wind had suggested.

His rival goal kicker, Federico Todeschini, miscued in the 15th minute after Simon Webster was penalised for a high tackle on the intervention of touch-judge Alan Lewis but Paterson's radar was honed anew as he drilled his second goal through the uprights after Pumas hooker Alvaro Tejeda's illegal interference at a driving Scotland maul.

Better followed in the 22nd minute. John Barclay pirated ball at a breakdown in midfield and Phil Godman fired a kick to within centimetres of the Pumas' try line. Lucas Borges slipped Godman's follow-up tackle in goal but he didn't escape Morrison or Paterson. Scotland again secured turnover ball at the breakdown and Ben Cairns menaced before his inside pass to Blair saw the Scots' captain clawed down four metres short. The cavalry arrived in the ample form of Ross Ford who barrelled over the line with Euan Murray's assistance for a fine try, his second for Scotland. Paterson converted and Scotland led 13-0.

Morrison, Cairns and Matt Mustchin soon led a daring Scottish counter-attack where Godman almost put Paterson clear only to be called back for a forward pass.

While the attack was purring purposefully, the defence was emitting a lion-hearted roar as wave after wave of Pumas' attacks were thwarted and by the break Scotland had stretched their lead with Paterson's third penalty.

Half-time Argentina 0 Scotland 16

Was it too much to hope this would be Scotland's day as Todeschini missed his second penalty four minutes into the second period?

Eight minutes later Blair was collared illegally at a breakdown set up from Hugo Southwell's surge and from the 10-metre line Paterson's kick was once more straight and true, stretching Scotland's lead to 19-0.

The home captain, Felipe Contepomi, was clearly riled, and he was very much the aggressor in pursuing a one-sided argument with Scotland's tight-head prop, Euan Murray. Referee Rolland, however, was having none of it and sin-binned both players.

Argentina made their extra forward tell when they at last generated a succession of advancing rucks from which lock Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe eventually thundered over for a 60th minute try. Todeschini converted and Scotland's lead was cut to 19-7.

Just as he had in Rosario, Paterson was then required to make a try saving tackle , then on Bernardo Stortoni, this time on Lucas Borges. Godman got the winger's legs and Paterson hit hard on the upper body causing the ball to be spilled forward on the line.

A score at that stage and with the crowd doing their animated best to raise home spirits, then a comeback was a possibility.

However, all such thoughts were dismissed in the 72nd minute when Dan Parks, on the field for just over a minute, juggled then intercepted a speculative pass from Nicolas Vergallo to Todeschini just outside his own 22. He set off for the try line but, sensing the cover closing, timed his inside pass close to the home 22 to perfection to Graeme Morrison who stormed over under the posts for his first try for Scotland. Paterson converted and Scotland led 26-7.

Had that margin been protected it would have helped Scotland's world ranking so it was somewhat galling to see Argentina score with the last move of the game through Horacio Agulla, with Todeschini converting.

But it would be churlish in the extreme to overly-criticise the significance of that score at this stage, given we're six months away from World Cup seedings being finalised.

Argentina

Bernardo Stortoni; Lucas Borges, Gonzalo Tiese, Felipe Contepomi captain, Horacio Agulla; Federico Todeschini, Nicolas Vergallo; Marcos Ayerza, Alvaro Tejeda, Santiago Bonorino, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Esteban Lozada, Martin Durand, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Fernandez Lobbe.

Substitutes

Pablo Gambarini, Juan Gomez, James Stuart, Alvaro Galindo, Alfredo Lalanne, Federico Arambaru, Federico Serra

Scotland

Hugo Southwell; Simon Webster, Ben Cairns (all Edinburgh), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Paterson; Phil Godman, Mike Blair captain; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford (all Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Matt Mustchin (Edinburgh), Scott MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Allister Hogg (Edinburgh), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors).

Substitutes

Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester) for Barclay (57mins), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) for MacLeod (61 mins), Barclay back on for Jacobsen (65 mins), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors) for Hogg (67 mins), Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors) for Godman (70 mins), Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) for Ford (71 mins), Rory Lawson (Gloucester) for Blair and Nick De Luca (Edinburgh) for Morrison (both 74 mins).

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)