Scotland v Argentina: hosts finish Autumn series with a big home win

Finn Russell and Darcy Graham star in an emphatic victory over ill-disciplined Pumas

Finn Russell was at his mercurial best for Scotland versus Argentina. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Finn Russell was at his mercurial best for Scotland versus Argentina. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Scotland 52

Argentina 29

DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield

AT the end of a bumpy Autumn series, Scotland delivered an action-packed performance against ill disciplined Argentina to claim their biggest win in this fixture since beating the Pumas 49-3 in the first cap international between the nations 32 years ago.

It was by no means a complete performance, but inspired by master-creator Finn Russell, and with Darcy Graham helping himself to three brilliantly taken tries, it was certainly an uplifting way to finish the campaign.

Their opponents also contributed to the entertainment value, with same razor-sharp attacking play of their own, but the collection of one red and three yellow cards over the piece – they spent nine minutes during the second half with only 12 players on the park – meant they were leading architects in their own downfall.


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It started badly for the home team with Jonny Gray being penalised straight from kick-off and Edinburgh’s Emiliano Boffelli kicking three points, but Scotland quickly bounced back to open their account when Finn Russell dummied then delayed his pass before sending Sione Tuipulotu into space. The centre still had plenty to do, but he made it look easy, stepping back inside full-back Juan Cruz Mallia then carrying three Argentinean tacklers on his back as he powered over the line.

The momentum swung back the other way and Puma No 8 Pablo Matera‘s elegant toe-poke behind forced Duhan van der Merwe to carry the ball back over his own line and touch down, handing Argentina an attacking scrum from which another toe-poke bounced off Russell’s legs, but the stand-off was clobbered as he tried to scoop up the ball and clear the danger in one action, and this time Argentina kept it in hand to send Jeronimo de la Fuente scored off the loose ball.

Scotland battled through over 20 phases deep inside Argentina territory but the opposition defence stood strong and there was no more scoring at this stage. However, visiting openside Marcos Kremer‘s reckless and dangerous clear out on Jamie Ritchie prompted a red-card, meaning the visitors had to play the final hour with only 14-men (and some spells with 13 or even 12 players on the park).

Scotland wasted little time piling further misery onto their opponents, with Russell’s delayed pass once again the decisive factor while van der Merwe used his bulk and power to wrestle the ball over the line.

The hosts were straight back on the attack from the restart, and extended their lead four minutes later, with Russell ghosting through midfield, then Grant Gilchrist carrying play up to five yards from the posts before popping off the deck to create a two-man overlap on the right, which Chris Harris initially failed to utilise, but Darcy Graham saved the centre’s blushes by collecting the pass out of contact and diving over.

An exchange of passes between Stuart Hogg and Graham sent the latter on a break-out from his own 22, but Harris lost the ball in contact, then Graham opted to run when he perhaps should have kicked and ended up being penalised for holding-on, handing Argentina a way back into the match.

The Pumas dominated possession and territory during the final five minutes of the half, and they scored their second try – narrowing the gap to four points – just before the break, when Matias Alemanno muscled over from close range.

 

The second half started in spectacular style for the Scots with that man Russell once again pulling the strings, wrapping round Tuipulotu and sweeping through a gap then delivering a backhanded offload to Hogg, who sent Graham scampering up the right touchline for another brilliantly taken try.

Argentina then had both starting second-rows yellow-carded inside a 30 second window, with Alemanno committing an even more mindless but not quite as dangerous ruck clear-out on Gray, and then Tomas Lavanini collapsing a maul which was travelling with purpose towards the try-line in the next passage of play.

Somehow, the 12 remaining men of Argentina scored next, aided in no small part by Scotland falling into the trap of trying to hard to make their extra men count and losing sight of their game-plan, leading to Matías Orlando gobbling up Jack Dempsey‘s loose offload on halfway then sending Boffelli in for a try under the posts, which the Edinburgh man converted himself.

Scotland recovered their composure, Fraser Brown carried deep into Argentina’s 22, and when the ball went right, Hogg drew the last man to send Tuipulotu over.

It started to get bad tempered and after a mass rammy  no real punches thrown – Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie and Argentinean loose-head Thomas Gallo were both sent to the sin-bin as chief instigators.

Once rugby returned to the agenda, Scotland really began to make the numerical advantage work in their favour, probing Argentina in the wide channels and eventually getting into position for try number six, scored by replacement centre Cam Redpath racing on to Russell’s neat grubber into the in-goal area.

More pressure brought more points, with Hogg scooting under the posts with six minutes to go for his 27th try for Scotland, stretching him three clear at the top of the nations try-scoring chart, and then his Hawick pal Graham finished off his hat-trick when he collected a pass from Blair Kinghorn and finished in the corner with a typically stylish swallow dive.

Deep into injury time, Tuipulotu was yellow-carded for tipping Mallia past the horizontal in a tackle, and Argentina another five minutes of overtime battering away at the Scottish line before eventually getting their reward when replacement hooker Ignacio Ruiz burrowed over.

 

Teams –

Scotland: S Hogg; D Graham, C Harris (C Redpath 60), S Tuipulotu, D van der Merwe (B Kinghorn 69); F Russell, A Price (B White 53); P Schoeman( J Bhatti 65), F Brown (G Turner 57), Z Fagerson (M Walker 65), J Gray, G Gilchrist (G Young 75), M Fagerson, J Ritchie, J Dempsey (A Christie, 57).

Argentina: J Mallia; B Delguy (N Tetaz Chaparro 62), M Orlando, J de la Fuente (L Paulos 50), E Boffelli; S Carreras (N Sanchez 60), G Bertranou (L Bazan Velez, 76); T Gallo ( F Isa 76)), J Montoya (I Ruiz, 63), E Bello (S Medrano 57), M Alemanno, T Lavanini (M Moroni 60), J Gonzalez, M Kremer, P Matera.

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)

 

Scorers –

Scotland: Try: Tuipulotu 2, van der Merwe, Graham 3, Redpath, Hogg; Con: Russell 6.

Argentina: Tries: De la Fuente, Alemanno, Boffelli, Ruiz; Con: Boffelli 2, Sanchez; Pen: Boffelli.

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 7-8; 12-8; 14-8; 19-8; 19-13; 19-15 (h-t) 24-15; 24-20; 24-22; 29-22; 31-22. 36-22; 38-22; 43-22; 45-22; 50-22; 52-22; 52-27; 52-29.

 

Yellow cards –

Scotland: Ritchie (62mins), Tuipulotu (82mins)

Argentina: Alemanno (48mins), Lavanini (49mins), Gallo (62mins)

Red cards –

Argentina: Kremer (22mins)


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About David Barnes 3112 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

42 Comments

  1. Ein Stein ‘dear chap’ !

    No dispute about Russell’s un availability for game against Australia – Ino different to English based players – What I am questioning is why he was left out of Autumn Series squad UNTIL Hastings was injured !- had Hastings NOT been injured would Russell have been called up ?
    – Gregors remarks regarding Russell’s form for Racing were simply laughable – end of !

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    • And it helps to play behind a pack that’s on top. The Scottish forwards were well on top of the Argentinian 8 – 5 forwards and for a large chunk of the game last week. However NZ upped their game for the last 20 mins and our backs disappeared too as our defence is still suspect when pressured.
      Unless we expect to dominate our six nations and World Cup opponents up front, there is still a lot of work to do, no matter who plays behind them.
      That old adage springs to mind – …forwards win matches, the back decide by how much

  2. 9h

    What a game of rugby, pure entertainment from both teams. The Argies are tough lads and fair play to them for hanging in at times, never say die. Finn Russell what a difference he makes to that team, he is an artist simple as that. How Townsend thinks that he can afford to jettison Russell from this squad is at best baffling, at worst an act of total masochism. Russell is world class. Hogg back to his best, Graham absolutely outstanding again. Alot to be positive about going into 2023

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  3. We’ll the fans can’t complain about lack of entertainment. But with so few Argentinians on the pitch at times – how good was the performance. Some good back play and Russel and Darcy outstanding again but we let a lot of tries in so defence a bit disorganised at times.

    Over the series the one area that really needs to improve is the ability of the forwards to score when we get 5m from the line. We had so many chances we failed to take over the 4 games. We seem too predictable, lacking dynamism and the endless pick and drives are so slow that we are easily held out. Watching other teams they seem to get over the line quite easily including Argentina with 7 forwards in the 1st half. I notice others are moving the ball from the constant pick and drives with the short pass between forwards to move the contact point a yard or two. This will lose us tight games if we don’t improve.

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  4. Richard it was Townsend himself that literally said initially that Finn needed to sort form and consistency…and then when Hastings was injured said Finn was ‘one of the options’…..he’s the only world class player we have and after today anyone suggesting otherwise is frankly a dafty

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    • Anyone suggesting otherwise… I’d consider Darcy Graham world class.

      Do you recall that FR is having a child due any day now. Perhaps that was part of the thought process, maybe by mutual agreement?

      As much as you’re entitled to your opinion, not really interested in talking with someone who can’t be respectfully disagree and use reasons rather than insults.

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    • Anyone suggesting otherwise… I’d consider Darcy Graham world class.

      Do you recall that FR is having a child due any day now. Perhaps that was part of the thought process, maybe by mutual agreement? AI’s after all, not 6N or WC. There’s also other 10s that need to feel they’re going to get a look in, and we need backup.

      As much as you’re entitled to your opinion, not really interested in talking with someone who can’t be respectfully disagree and use reasons rather than insults.

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  5. Finn was imperious. Back 3 had the platform to display their attacking talents. Harris’s attacking weaknesses were cruelly exposed.Tuipolotu and Bennett much better options. Line out a shambles without R. Gray. If we are forced to fall back on that 2nd row partnership we are in trouble. Balance of back row still not right, players too similar. Still cannot score in the forwards from 5m out. Wtf do they do all week in training. Perhaps we should employ the pumas forwards coach.

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  6. There’s that saying about not being able to beat Wales, you can score more than them but not beat them. With Scotland, you can put 20 on a top tier side but we’ll still look at the negatives.

    Sure there were a few, but they didn’t win by accident. Lacking a killer instinct when it was vs 13 perhaps, cool heads prevailing. That boring Irish grind perhaps.

    OTOH, look at all the other Autumn results. Says the same as the past 4 or so 6N. Top teams right close in competitiveness and home advantage often swaying it.

    I enjoy watching Scotland nowadays, it ain’t perfect but it’s far from the behind the couch stuff that both the rugby and football teams produced for the majority of the past 2 decades.

    Can’t fathom people acting like we deserve much more. Possibly. Great to see DG put his stamp on things again fwiw.

    wrt FR fine game but he did give away a try with a coarse knock on, looked like he could’ve retained it and been sensible. 7 points.

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    • Well that’s some utter word salad nonsense.Finn was by an utterly massively huge margin the reason we didn’t become the first side to lose to 12….if u really think he was the problem rather than the solution you should probably find another sport to follow like table tennis or rounders in.

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      • But is he isn’t the whole team, is he? Can GT take credit for this win or is the 12 man thing his fault and FR gets the plaudits?

        I didn’t say he was the problem, but you’re almost saying he won this single-handedly.

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      • It’s a shame someone can’t offer an opinion without being told to go watch another sport by an unpleasant and intolerant keyboard warrior.

      • Try rewatching it. He gathered it, tried to hastily kick it and was tackled in the process. He could’ve went to ground.

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  7. What a game of rugby, pure entertainment from both teams. The Argies are tough lads and fair play to them for hanging in at times, never say die. Finn Russell what a difference he makes to that team, he is an artist simple as that. How Townsend thinks that he can afford to jettison Russell from this squad is at best baffling, at worst an act of total masochism. Russell is world class. Hogg back to his best, Graham absolutely outstanding again. Alot to be positive about going into 2023

  8. There were folk questioning how Kinghorn would react to Russell getting reinstated. He couldn’t be sat on the bench thinking anything other than “damn, he’s good!”

    If we’re lucky, we’ve got just a few more years of this genius left – if Townsend attempts to play silly buggers again, he should be sacked on the spot.

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  9. Very curious game. Some sublime moves and finishes followed by comedy defending.

    For once the blame is with the players. Headless chickens when they were down to 14 and got worse when they were at 12.

    Argentina could have done something with a full team but their indiscipline was shocking. The handbags towards the end was really poor.

    Overall I take the 50% win rate for this series. Need to up things for 6 Nations though.

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  10. Just watched the summing up and heard the official Townsend/SRU line from Mike Blair with the suggestion that we can thank Townsends ‘Player management’ of Russell for his performances in the last two fixtures.
    In consideration of my thoughts and the moderation rules on this platform, I’ll let others guess my thoughts on the veracity of Mike Blair’s comment.

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      • Interesting, I am being blocked for saying that Mike Blairs comments on Finn”regaining” form were a wee bit embarrassing.

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      • You weren’t blocked, your comments ended up in our filter folder which we don’t have the man-power to monitor 24 hours per day.

        Unfortunately it is necessary to have a filter system due to the volume of spam and trolling sites like this are subjected to.

        Curious though, if you really thought you were ‘blocked’ then why did you bother writing another comment about it which you surely anticipated wouldn’t see the right of day either?

    • Blair is usually very astute but to try to give Townsend credit for Finn’Regaining” form was embarrassing and a bit demeaning. He has been playing like that all season.

    • Mike Blair is normally a very thoughtful and informed commentator. But to try to give Townsend the credit for Finn “regaining” form – he has been playing like that all season – was just a bit embarrassing.

      • I’ve watched every game Russell has played thus season. I was surprised he wasn’t named in the initial squad, but he hasn’t been playing like yesterday all season, that is just nonsense

        His form has been average some good stiff and some very average. He picked up hugely after he was left out and yesterday was by a country mile his best performance of the season, up there with his best ever.

        On form the man is a genius, and a n average form Russell is still better than none but lets not invent performances which didn’t happen

    • Oh dear, GH….

      FR wasn’t available vs Oz, then the decision was taken to explore the other options within the squad in the less-challenging Fiji match, before going back to FR at 10 vs NZ & Argentina. Simples – pretty obvious, except to the Toonie-bashers!

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      • IF the GH refers to me then I have to say it has no relation to anything I have posted on this or any other forum. As regard Fiji as less challenging and returning to Russell, GT was forced into the recall because of Hasting’s injury, to consider anything else is delusional as was the thought that Fiji wouldn’t be a challenge.

  11. Well, what can you say?
    Finn pulled the strings, and a decent win was had.
    Finn was realistic in his post match interview, Scotland played against 14, then 13 then 12, but we still struggled to capitalise fully?
    I’m not being overly critical, just realistic on a decent performance, but let’s keep our feet on the ground and see how we shape up in the 6 Nations against 80 mins of 15 x Irish or French?
    Well done Scotland, it’s a win, let’s learn and build on it, and steer clear of the handbag stuff please 👍🙂

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  12. What to make of that game?. Red card spoilt it a bit , but taking running dives in to rucks is never going to end well for players. Great performance from Finn , he really brings Graham and VDM in to the game with great effect. Do not think Gregor is going to play silly b****** and drop him again. I think Price needs a rest he was poor again today. Best game from Tuipulotu in a Scotland jersey. Good to see Redpath back and scoring, and a hat trick from Graham and a brace from Tuipulotu.
    Worries well we seem not to be able for the forwards to score tries with picks and go’s at the moment but we are scoring plenty tries and some very good ones. We had a try scored against us when we were 15:12 men up.
    Interesting Wales lost to Georgia and England managed some comeback to draw with the AB’s. So if we had not lost to Australia we might have had a great series.

  13. A win is a win, BUT thank goodness a couple of lads from Hawick along with the surprising performance from Scotland’s 4th ranked number 10 turned up.
    HOWEVER there has to be better management on the field to have the opposition down to 12 and not subsequently put 75 points on the board by the end of the game IF NOT MORE is something that has to be addressed.
    That said the 1st yellow might have been Red if he hadn’t already dished one up, and the Argentine 19 should have taken a walk as well. My thoughts might well be more considered by the morning.

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    • Agree. Watching Harris butchering chances because his skills are so poor for a pro let alone an international is hugely frustrating….the fact that we have to sacrifice speed and skill at centre so we can be ‘defensively strong ‘ holds zero weight when we are conceding four tries to a team that was short for an hour….even worse when they were down to 12. Townsend needs to wake up to this failed experiment and continued stubbornness. Regarding Ten, Bill McLaren used to say the ‘the crowd will tell you’….well they certainly did during Finn’s interview. Townsend should be publicly thanking Russell for saving his job and apologising for the frankly disgraceful comments about Finn’s form. Back three were superb and the two wingers can surely be talked about as world class. Will Darcy be the next Hawick man to be record try scorer??

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    • and Harris tackling the player in the air, and Tuipulotu only getting a yellow despite the ref describing it as beyond the horizontal and driven, and then there also looks to be a kick from Fagerson in the stramash, but that was conveniently not look at.

      If we are serious about safety and removing foul play, there needs to be far greater consistency in the refereeing of these siutations.

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      • The Tuipulotu one led to guy landing on his elbow not head or neck and when seen at real the had little force. Yellow was certainly correct. It was never a red. As for the Harris tackle in the air I genuinely can’t comment one way or other as I didn’t see it…. frankly it’s shocking that he could have kept up with play tbh!

      • Are you kidding me Dogma.

        The Argentine players head bounces off the ground due to the foul play – the ref stops the game with Argentina in attack as he is concerned for the players safety, the commentator thinks the players unconscious and says you can hear players on the refs mic saying he’s out. Doc Robson is first on the scene after the whistle goes as he’s concerned for the players welfare.

        Despite looking in severe discomfort, there was no HIA (as with Ritchie), but that’s another issue.

        It was an illegal & dangerous tackle that looks to have put the player in severe problems – it’s a red card.

    • A good win but Scotland wasted the advantage when Argentina were down to 12/13. Russell ensured that Townsend’s petty decision to drop him for the first two games lacked any credibility – there is no other contender for the No 10 jersey in the 6 Nations or World Cup

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      • Two issues with your comments, but mainly because you seem to be pessimistic for the wrong reasons.

        One being Scotland never have had that instinct to kill off a game against a top tier side, best I can remember in my lifetime is against Aus in 2018.

        This whole Finn thing. I heard him speak this week and he had not a single pot shot. He spoke about having a child to be born this past week (it’s now overdue). He wasn’t eligible in the first week. It’s the Autumn Internationals.

        There may have been a white lie about him not being picked but there may have been better reasons for him not being there. This unilateral “Toonie bad” thing, after a record win against Argentina is facile.

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      • Snoman, dear chap – listen to Richard!

        Russell wasn’t available vs Oz, then the decision was taken to explore the other options within the squad in the less-challenging Fiji match, before going with the Racing92 maverick at 10 vs NZ & Argentina.

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