Argentina V Scotland
He did it in the Stadio Olimpico with a nerveless drop-goal and today in Cordoba, Duncan Weir once again proved Scotland’s match-winner.
The diminutive stand-off withstood a cacophony of noise from the Estadio Mario Kempes and put behind him two earlier missed goal kicks, to land a dramatic 79th minute successful penalty, which maintained the 100 per cent start to Vern Cotter’s reign as Scotland head coach.
Four out of four?
Three out of three on the summer tour then and a fourth successive win for Scotland on Argentine soil building on the 2008 successes in Buenos Aires and the double in Tucuman and Mar del Plata in 2010.
Scotland still had to endure one final Argentine flurry but an abortive drop-goal strike by Weir’s opposite number, Nicolas Sanchez, meant the spoils went to the visitors.
As both Cotter and Weir acknowledged post-match there’s still much on which Scotland can improve and they know they will have to for their match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth next Saturday.
But for the moment they can reflect on a scrum and lineout that stood tall against the physical assault of the Pumas and that the energy that the fresh faces from home brought – seven in the starting line-up and another five on the bench – was very much as the coaches had sought.
We have to start believing that they can mix it with the best."
That belief was evident in the early exchanges when Nick De Luca fed out one of his long miss-one passes to Tommy Seymour on the left and the winger proved as elusive as ever and then released Stuart Hogg perfectly with the inside pass for the full-back’s sixth try for Scotland. Weir converted for a 7-0 lead.
Flanker Javier Deso crashed over for a try in the hosts’ response and, by the break, home stand-off Sanchez’s drop-goal had secured Argentina an 8-7 advantage.
Weir had seen a long-range penalty effort go wide before the break and when Sanchez landed his second penalty three minutes after the restart Argentina looked to consolidate.
Up the tempo
Scotland made the first of six substitutions when Henry Pyrgos was introduced for Grayson Hart and the Glasgow scrum-half played a major part in the upping of the tempo from the Scots.
Weir’s first penalty narrowed it to a single point again before Sanchez popped over another penalty for 14-10.
A well-worked home try, with substitute Joaquin Tuculet showing quick feet to weave clear of Blair Cowan, had the crowd going through their full repertoire.
Further substitutes joined the fray for Scotland: Tim Swinson before the Argentine’s second try and Chris Fusaro, Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur and Jon Welsh after it and they certainly brought renewed impetus to the Scots’ efforts at this juncture.
Two kickable penalties were passed up as Weir opted for the touchline route as the Scots now trailed 10-19.
At this point, patience was required, and from a thumping scrum drive, Scotland were awarded a penalty which Weir nailed.
We were into the closing ten minutes and Dougie Fife had joined the fightback as Scotland crafted a fine second try. Captain Grant Gilchrist was involved in its origins, De Luca again was seen in distribution mode and when Seymour blazed away anew on the outside route on the touchline, it was left to Pyrgos to race home.
Weir, alas, could not land the conversion so with the clock ticking into the last five minutes could Scotland contrive one final chance?
For sure they did. The forwards surged forwarded relentlessly in a driving maul and the Pumas infringed. Weir was courage personified as his kick bisected the uprights.
“I’d been kicking the ball pretty well today and was annoyed to have missed the two before,” he explained. “It was a case of thinking about the things that Hodgey (assistant coach Duncan Hodge) has said and trusting my technique.”
His trust was rewarded . . . and how.
Argentina: Lucas Amorosino; Santiago Cordero, Matias Orlando, Santiago Iglesias, Manuel Montero; Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli (captain); Bruno Postiglioni, Julian Montoya, Matias Diaz, Manuel Carizza, Matias Alemmano, Rodrigo Baez, Javier Desio, Tomas De La Vega.
Subs: Santiago Valdez, Lucas Paz, Nahuel Chaparro, Tomas Lavanini, Antonio De Chazal, Martin Landajo, Matias Moroni and Joaquin Tuculet.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Nick De Luca, Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour; Duncan Weir, Grayson Hart; Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist captain, Robert Harley, Blacir Cowan, Kieran Low. Subs: Pat MacArthur for Ford, Gordon Reid for Dickinson, Jon Welsh for Cross, Tim Swinson for Gray, Chris Fusaro for Cowan, Henry Pyrgos for Hart, Tom Heathcote (unused) and Dougie Fife for Horne.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).