Argentina 6-29 Scotland: Scots level series after storming second half in Salta
Scotland steamrollered Argentina in the second half to win the second Test convincingly; now Scotland enter the final game of the series next Saturday, which you can also watch live on Sky Sports full of confidence
Last Updated: 10/07/22 7:38am
Scotland blew Argentina away in Salta with a strong second half performance to level the Test Series with the Pumas.
Tries from Hamish Watson, Mark Bennett, Matt Fagerson and Sam Johnson saw Scotland comfortably win the game 29-6 to silence a raucous home crowd, and to complete an amazing quartet of victories for the home nations in the Southern Hemisphere – the first time Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland had all won on tour in the same day.
It was a morale-boosting win for a Scotland team without British and Irish Lions Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Chris Harris – the trio are being rested at home for this series – but fellow Lion Watson, returning after injury last week, scored a try to mark his landmark 50th cap in style.
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Blair Kinghorn and Ross Thompson contributed nine points with the boot as a home crowd that had celebrated Independence Day in Argentina before kick-off and were in party mood, fell silent.
In the second match under new head coach Michael Cheika, Argentina selected Glasgow Warriors stand-off Domingo Miotti as a back replacement for Saturday’s match, while Edinburgh’s Emiliano Boffelli retained his place in the starting XV, moving from wing to full-back.
Gregor Townsend made five changes to the Scotland team with Hamish Watson startubf at openside, while scrum-half Ben White, hooker Dave Cherry, second row Sam Skinner and blindside Rory Darge were also included. Ali Price and George Turner dropped to the bench, while Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury and Luke Crosbie dropped out of the matchday squad of 23.
Scotland had trailed 6-3 before Watson gave them a narrow advantage three minutes before the break.
Leading by a couple of points after a fairly tepid first half, Townsend's side took control in the third quarter of the match, scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half to tie the series at 1-1, setting up a decider next Saturday evening, which you can also watch live on Sky Sports.
Scotland made a fast start on a blisteringly-hot afternoon and Kinghorn landed a simple fourth-minute penalty before Edinburgh club team-mate Emiliano Boffelli, who shifted to full-back for Argentina, levelled the scores.
After that, the contest descended into an arm wrestle with both sides guilty of careless handling errors, with Scotland particularly guilty and notably turning over the ball when closing in on the Argentinian goal-line on at least three occasions.
In a rare riposte, Argentina failed to take advantage of Santiago Carreras scything through before Scotland squandered a similar opportunity.
Darcy Graham set up a thrilling attack by collecting a high ball under pressure, but his fellow wing Duhan van der Merwe was forced into touch with the Argentina defence at full stretch. It was a bad error by the powerful winger, who had to keep himself inbounds in that situation.
Graham looked like the man most trying to spark Scotland and there was one man who looked like making things happen for the hosts. Carreras' skills – be it with ball in hand or kicking around the fringes – continued to cause problems, and White's high tackle on Rodrigo Bruni gave Boffelli an easy penalty to put Argentina ahead.
Argentina 6-29 Scotland - Score summary
|Argentina - Pens: Boffelli (6,34).|
|Scotland - Tries: Watson (37), Bennett (43), Fagerson (53), Johnson (64). Cons: Kinghorn (44), Thompson (54,65). Pens: Kinghorn (4).|
Scotland, however, seized the lead again just before the break after they had chosen to ignore a straightforward three points in front of the posts and go for the corner.
Argentina were unable to defend a driving line-out and Watson marked his milestone appearance by burrowing over for his seventh Test try.
Scotland extended their lead within two minutes of the restart after Darge and Pierre Schoeman smashed holes in the home defence.
White then set up Bennett, who cut an excellent line to score his second try in as many weeks, and Kinghorn converted for a 15-6 lead.
Guido Petti appeared to have given Argentina hope when storming over for a quick reply, but the score was disallowed for a forward pass from winger Juan Imhoff earlier in the move.
Argentina had a mountain to climb after Boffelli was shown a yellow card after 52 minutes for killing the ball.
Scotland took full advantage as Fagerson barrelled over for his first Test try and replacement Thompson added the extras.
The Pumas' misery continued when Carreras seemed certain to score but lost the ball under pressure from Darge.
Scotland put the seal on victory when Johnson charged onto Price's pass and Thompson converted to round off the day's scoring.
Argentina had good territory in the latter stages but Scotland created the necessary turnovers to make sure of a second half shutout.
Kyle Rowe, who stretchered off after coming off the bench for his first cap, and full-back Rory Hutchinson both picked up injuries to take a slight sheen off the victory for Scotland.
It was better from Scotland in the second half, and a cleaner first half could have led to an even more dominant victory. It is Argentina who now have to respond in the final Test, with the series set to be decided in next Saturday's third game in Santiago del Estero.
Townsend: We're only scratching the surface with this win
Gregor Townsend warned Argentina that Scotland were just "scratching the surface" after the dominant display in Salta.
"There's a lot of togetherness in the squad, it's a group that cares about each other and playing for their country," Townsend said.
"We knew we'd get a response this week. The way the players have trained, how committed they were to improving.
"We are scratching the surface with that performance, we'll be working to bring our best performance next week."
Scotland's first ever three-Test summer series had started with an opening 26-18 defeat but the team put in a much better performance in the second Test, particularly in the second 40 minutes.
Townsend added: "We started the game well. It was a mixed performance after that, but at the start of the second half we really took the ball to them.
"I thought some of the running lines and the effort in contact was outstanding.
"(There are a) lot of areas to improve, but to win a Test match in Argentina takes a lot of hard work. So real credit to our team for that.
"We knew it would be a tough challenge but our pack was outstanding, the back row in particular, against a quality side away from home in tiring conditions.
"Good foundations to build on for next week and for next season. That third quarter we had a lot of ball, a real credit to our maul and scrum performances."
The only downside were the injuries to backs Hutchinson and Rowe.
Townsend declared Hutchinson doubtful for the series decider, while expressing fears that London Irish wing Rowe had suffered a "serious injury" after coming on to win his first cap.
Scotland skipper Grant Gilchrist said: "We bounced back from last week, but we came here to win a series and we won't get ahead of ourselves.
"That was a lot more like it. But there's more growth in this team and we'll need it next week.
The series concludes with the third instalment of Argentina vs Scotland in Santiago del Estero on Saturday, July 16 – live on Sky Sports Action from 7.30pm.