Scotland v Argentina: Gregor Townsend hails ‘different way to win’

For Pumas coach Mario Ledesma, this was one that got away.

Huw Jones, Finn Russell and Alex Dunbar leave the field at the end of the match.
Huw Jones, Finn Russell and Alex Dunbar leave the field at the end of the match. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson.

AFTER a hard-fought 14-9 victory over Argentina in which Scotland fell well short of their spectacular best, neither Gregor Townsend nor Greig Laidlaw was in any risk of becoming carried away. But both the head coach and the captain expressed their pleasure at not only the outcome, but also the way in which it had been achieved.

Townsend explained that a rainy afternoon had deterred his team from playing their usual game, but he was satisfied with how they had adapted. “The conditions led to a game that was going to be more kicking – more forward carries, less width in our game,” the head coach said.

“So maybe not the aesthetics that we’ve seen when you get dry conditions, but you’ve got to make sure you put pressure on the opposition in different ways. It was a different way to win a game, and we’re obviously delighted we got a breakthrough with that try and held on.

“I felt the contact area is still one we need to improve. I think Argentina got two or three penalties for holding on from us, so that’s an area we have to be better at when we go into the Six Nations.

“I think our decision-making about when to kick was better than it was last week [against South Africa]. Last week the defence on two or three occasions got on to the front foot, and maybe that’s when we should have looked at a different tactic. Today we were much more aware of that situation and we did turn the opposition and put them under pressure.”

Townsend’s selection of twin playmakers in Adam Hastings at 10 and Finn Russell at 12 was the big talking point before the game, but in the event it appeared to have little impact on proceedings. With insufficient evidence on which to reach a definitive conclusion, the coach is minded to continue with the experiment.

“Nothing will be perfect the first time you put people in new positions,” he continued. “I felt Adam got more into the game as the first half went on, and I think Finn really took a grip of the game when he moved to 10 [after an hour]. It’s something that we will consider in the future.”

Like Townsend, Laidlaw was pleased with the perseverance and patience his team had shown. “Could we have played a little bit better?,” the scrum-half asked. “Yes, we could have. It was frustrating, but sometimes you just need to be patient and not try to force things too much and do things in the right areas.”

Slippery fish

For Pumas coach Mario Ledesma, this was one that got away.  “I think we missed 15 points and a couple of line breaks we should have scored especially in the last five minutes,” he said. “So we have to learn something from the game: we need to put away the opportunities that are presented to us. The boys were up to the challenge but sometimes it doesn’t go your way.

“It hurts a lot to lose a game like this. Against Ireland they dominated the game but I thought physically we dominated today. We caught them many times behind the advantage line, they were losing the ball because of our tackles and line speed. I thought there were some decisions that didn’t go our way.”

One of those decisions came after 25 minutes, when Fraser Brown was only penalised for a dangerous tackle when Ledesma thought a card would have been in order. “There was a tweet about all the red cards and yellow cards that should have been awarded to players and this is one of them,” the coach added. “Clearly he is late, he applies force, it ticks all the boxes, but that’s the way it is.

“The ref didn’t see it that way, the TMO didn’t see it that way, it’s just the way it is.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1428 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.