Argentina 34-31 Scotland: Emiliano Boffelli scores last-gasp try to win Test Series
A thrilling Test match saw Argentina steal the series victory when the clock was in the red; Emiliano Boffelli's try against a host of his team-mates who were playing for Scotland provided a fitting finale to an outstanding series
Last Updated: 17/07/22 7:06am
Edinburgh's star in the Pumas squad, Emiliano Boffelli, broke Scotland's hearts with a last-gasp winning try in the final play of the game to seal the Test series for Argentina.
A thrilling third Test saw both teams produce their best rugby of the series in Santiago del Estero and it went end-to-end throughout as Argentina relied on Boffelli's late score to prevail.
Scotland's Ewan Ashman and Duhan van der Merwe both managed to get a pair of tries each but it wasn't enough as Scotland will rue poor lineout execution which cost them on more than one occasion. Blair Kinghorn also played well for Scotland and had a trusty evening with the boot.
The tourists were so close to the win. The Scots kicked for the corner late on in the game when leading by four points, and surrendered a 15-point lead they built with a whirlwind start to the second half.
But Argentina tries from Santiago Carreras, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Gonzalo Bertranou and, of course, Boffelli at the end, proved pivotal for Argentina.
Story of the game
Scotland's team is packed with Edinburgh players but it was Argentina winger Boffelli who crossed after the 80-minute mark to deny the Scots a tour series victory in Argentina.
The tourists, though, will rue letting this one slip. Scotland were 15 points ahead with half an hour left following try doubles from Van der Merwe and Ashman but the hosts fought back to seal a 34-31 victory in front of 30,000 fans in Santiago del Estero.
Gregor Townsend made eight changes to his Scotland side, with flanker Hamish Watson named captain.
In the backline, Ollie Smith made his debut at fullback, while wing Rufus McClean, centre Sione Tuipulotu and scrum-half Ali Price also came in, as Rory Hutchinson, Darcy Graham and Ben White were left out of the squad, and centre Sam Johnson dropped to the bench.
In the forwards, loosehead Rory Sutherland, hooker Ewan Ashman, and second-row duo Scott Cummings and Jonny Gray were named in the starting XV, with Pierre Schoeman and Dave Cherry moved to the bench, and Sam Skinner and last week's skipper Grant Gilchrist out of the squad.
Argentina coach Michael Cheika went even further than Townsend by making 11 changes, with both injuries and last week's disappointing display no doubt playing a part in his decision.
The pulsating decider ended in dramatic fashion when Argentina worked the ball out wide for Boffelli – who finished with 17 points – to go over following some sustained late pressure.
The winger had squandered a good chance for an early try when he mishandled on the touchline but the Edinburgh man soon kicked a penalty to open the scoring.
Scotland had made eight changes following their second-Test victory with full-back Ollie Smith making his debut, and they finally came to life in the 13th minute.
Kinghorn squeezed through two opponents and offloaded to Van der Merwe to power over the line.
Boffelli was soon involved as Argentina responded. The 27-year-old set up Santiago Carreras to go over and then kicked the hosts 10-7 in front.
The action continued as Ashman powered over after a line-out maul and Kinghorn added his second conversion.
Argentina 34-31 - Score summary
Argentina - Tries: Carreras (20), Tetaz Chaparro (51), Bertranou (67), Boffelli (80). Cons: Boffelli (21, 51, 80), Bertranou (68) Pens: Boffelli (11, 35).
Scotland – Tries: Van Der Merwe (13, 48), Ashman (25, 43). Cons: Kinghorn (14, 27, 44, 49). Pens: Kinghorn (65).
Boffelli reduced the arrears with a penalty and Kinghorn hit the bar with a long-range penalty attempt in the final minute of the half.
Scotland took control in the opening 10 minutes of the second period.
Ali Price fed Kinghorn, whose quick pass allowed Ashman to cross out wide.
Van der Merwe then cut inside to follow up some good ball-carrying from his forwards to go over again. Kinghorn's kicking put Scotland seemingly well in command, but the hosts hit back inside three minutes.
A needless penalty allowed Argentina to put the Scots under pressure and Tetaz Chaparro went over after the five-metre scrum.
Scotland's pack helped them settle and Kinghorn kicked the visitors 11 points in front with 15 minutes left.
Argentina refused to buckle and Gonzalo Bertranou scored from close range in the 67th minute.
With Scotland four points in front, they passed up the chance to kick a penalty and Jonny Gray was held up as he forced his way over the line following the lineout.
Dave Cherry put in some big hits and Price produced a try-saving tackle as Scotland tried to withstand the pressure, but Boffelli had the final say when he dived over and then added a final flourish by kicking from the touchline.
The stadium erupted and the Pumas were left celebrating a historic victory.
What they said
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was proud of his players despite suffering a series defeat in the final seconds of their tour and surrendering a 15-point second-half lead.
Townsend told Sky Sports: "We are obviously really disappointed because we were ahead for most of the game and we had chances - chances to score a try and were held up over the line, and chances just to be a bit more efficient with our exiting in the last five minutes.
"I really feel for the players because so much of their display was full of courage and skill.
"It was our best display of the tour and would have been a famous win but the feelings just now are the opposite of that.
"The way we played away home in front of noisy crowd, against a very good side, I am so proud of that effort.
"We just need to make sure we win those games that we dominate for so long."
Townsend refused to criticise his players for kicking for the corner instead of goal when they were four points ahead approaching the final 10 minutes.
"We got 15 ahead by kicking towards the corner in the first half," he said.
"We backed ourselves and just didn't get the ball over the try line. That was unfortunate but it was something we will learn as a group."
Scotland skipper Hamish Watson admitted they had let victory slip out of their hands.
"We dominated the game, we looked good in attack but I think we were architects of our own downfall," the flanker said.
"Every time we got ahead, and got 15 points clear, we let them back in the game, and couldn't exit.
"We didn't bank the points after kick-offs. When we were receiving we just couldn't get out of our half and gifted them points.
"All credit to Argentina, they are a very good team, they were always going to stick in there, they are a proud nation and we knew they were going to come back.
"We talked about banking the points and we didn't do that and, when we got down to five metres out on a number of occasions, our set-piece wasn't good enough."