Scotland V Argentina
It wasn’t pretty or free-flowing but winning in international rugby is a precious commodity and Scotland wrapped up their Autumn Tests before another BT Murrayfield capacity crowd with a tenaciously secured success against Argentina today.
Conditions for sure had an impact on the game and had Argentina harvested the 12 points that went abegging through missed goal kicks it might have asked different questions of Scotland.
At one point we were looking at the record books to check the last game that Scotland had failed to register a try – it was against Japan in Tokyo on the 2016 summer tour in case you were wondering – but from some rare second-half continuity and accuracy Sean Maitland was over the whitewash again.
Scotland thus ended the 2018 calendar year with a tally of 40 tries and a 58% win ratio from their 12 games.
In a mere 70 days, we’ll do it all over again in the Six Nations Championship!
The rain, which had been intermittent in the morning, was steady at kick-off as Scotland waited to receive at the north end of the ground and it was a fine start for the hosts as Grant Gilchrist caught, Scotland mauled and Argentina were penalised for side entry.
Blair Kinghorn had a scamper into the 22 and Scotland recycled before Medrano was caught offside and from 28 metres Greig Laidlaw goaled (3-0, 3 mins).
Scotland won a free kick at the first scrum, but it was the Pumas who had the opportunity to equalise for a hands-in-the ruck offence. Sanchez’s 9thminute attempt was swung lazily to the left of the posts and was a bit of a benchmark for what was to follow.
Argentina were dominating the early possession as Scotland had sought to make territory through the box-kick boot of Greig Laidlaw. His half-back partner, Adam Hastings, put boot to ball and had a kick charged down but, on his first BT Murrayfield start, Hastings got back to touch down.
Into the second quarter and Hastings was guilty of a high tackle but Boffelli’s kick was wide from distance.
Huw Jones was the next Scot required to rescue from a probing kick ahead and the game continued to be played without any of Scotland’s characteristic tempo.
Argentina levelled finally when Hastings was penalised on the deck, Sanchez finding the target (3-3, 28 mins).
That provoked a response from Scotland and with Hastings finding an opening and Fraser Brown and Jamie Ritchie developing the attack, Argentina slowed up loose ball for Laidlaw to strike (6-3, 32 mins).
A disappointing first-half ended with a guddle from Jonny Gray which rather summed up much of what had gone before.
Half-time: Scotland 6 Argentina 3
Within two minutes of the restart, Sanchez gave Argentina parity with his second penalty after Hastings had gone off his feet. (6-6, 42 mins).
Scotland tried to bring Kinghorn on a midfield intrusion, but it only bequeathed another Argentina penalty, which drifted wide, their third miss.
In contrast, Laidlaw topped the 650 points mark for Scotland as he maintained his 100% record with his third penalty after Creevy’s high tackle on Huw Jones (9-6, 55 mins).
The game so desperately needed a try and, at last, it arrived. A tackle penalty won by Jamie Ritchie, Hogg’s touch-finder, Ritchie at the lineout and then Scotland going through the phases with Alex Dunbar and Gray on the charge, enabled Laidlaw to change the direction of attack, Hogg to link and Maitland to sail in for his 11thtry for Scotland. Laidlaw’s conversion hit the crossbar and stayed out (14-6, 66 mins).
Argentina endured their fourth penalty miss – offside was the offence – and then with Sanchez pulling the strings the Pumas launched a daring break-out which ended with a knock-on in the home 22.
Scotland were penalised at the subsequent scrummage and Sanchez goaled (14-9, 74 mins). Thus it was a nervy finish for spectators.
Laidlaw missed a penalty from distance at the death after some magic from Byron McGuigan on the West Stand touchline and Argentina countered from their own 22. A knock-on brought the match to an end and Scotland could breathe a sigh of relief perhaps rather than a roar of elation.
Full-time: Scotland 14-9 Argentina
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Sean Maitland (Saracens), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby); Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne)CAPTAIN; Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist (both Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson (both Edinburgh Rugby), Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks).
Subs: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) for Brown (60 mins), Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) for Dell (67 mins), Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) for Berghan (49 mins), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) for Gray (67 mins), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) for Strauss (49 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors for Hastings (60 mins), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) for Kinghorn (67 mins).
Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli; Bautista Delguy, Matias Moroni, Jeronomino De La Fuente, Ramiro Moyano; Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou; Santiago Garcia Botta, Agustin Creey, Santiago Medrano, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera CAPTAIN, Rodrigo Bruni, Javier Ortega Desio.
Subs: Julian Montoya for Creevy (60 mins), Juan Pablo Zeiss for Botta (67 mins), Lucio Sordon, Matias Alemanno for Lavanini (61 mins), Tomas Lezana for Desio (50 mins), Martin Landaj for Bertranou (49 mins)o, Matias Orlando for De La Fuente (23-24 mins) then for Moroni (40 mins), Sebastian Cancelliere for Delguy (71 mins).
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand). Assistant referees: Nigel Owens and Dan Jones (both Wales). TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland).
Tennent’s Man of the Match: Greig Laidlaw (Scotland).