Scotland beat Argentina in Murrayfield thriller
Last Updated: 08/11/14 8:07pm
Brothers Richie and Jonny Gray scored as Scotland got their World Cup preparations off to the perfect start with a 41-31 win over Argentina at Murrayfield.
It was the first time the siblings - the 22nd pair to have played together in Dark Blue - had ever taken to the field together.
But their second-row display was the bedrock of a opening autumn Test win which will increase hopes ahead of an important 12 months for the Scots.
Vern Cotter's first home match in charge ended with fives tries as Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour also crossed the whitewash, with skipper Greig Laidlaw kicking 18 points on top of a late Duncan Weir penalty.
The Argentinians had got off to a rapid start, scoring through Javier Ortega Desio after just 90 seconds.
They struggled to breakthrough until the last hour but put a gloss on their scoreline with the help of a penalty try and a late double by sub Tomas Cubelli.
Yet it looked as if the hosts had got off to a nightmare start as they fell behind after just seconds after kick-off.
The hosts had made decent progress into opposition territory but coughed up possession when Manuel Montero's fierce hit caught out Laidlaw. The loose ball dropped for flanker Desio, who was somehow allowed to dart 60 meters to run in his own try, converted by Nicolas Sanchez.
But that was about as much as the Argentinians could muster for an hour as Scotland brilliantly snuffed out their threat.
Cotter has tried to instil a new confident mentality into the Dark Blues since taking over in the summer and there was evidence of progress as his team hit back immediately.
They worked through the phases after gaining 20 yards of territory and got their reward as an overload down the right gave the 6ft 10ins Richie Gray space to canter in for his second international try.
Laidlaw put the conversion over but Scotland were behind again as Sanchez knocked over a penalty for the visitors.
Scotland kept to Cotter's gameplan, though, and found joy at the breakdown. They were given an extra advantage after 21 minutes when Pumas scrum-half Martin Landajo found himself sent to the sin-bin for a blatant shoulder-check on Seymour as the Glasgow wing sped down the line.
Russell put the free-kick into touch and Scotland again kept their composure from the line-out drive which followed before Jonny Gray completed a family double by crashing over from close range. Laidlaw did the necessary with the conversion then played a significant part as Scotland ran in again.
Jonny Gray and Harley did brilliantly to steal possession for the visitors on half-way and with it a penalty. The skipper then showed his quick-thinking with a rapid tap-and-go before offloading wide to the unmarked Maitland sprinting down the right.
The Gloucester scrum-half added his third conversion then fired over a 40-metre penalty as Scotland went in with a comfortable half-time lead.
Laidlaw - who took over the captaincy after Cotter's initial pick Grant Gilchrist was ruled out of the autumn Tests - was again the inspiration for Scotland's fourth try. Sanchez left a huge gap for the skipper to drive into and Hogg made the most of the opening before setting up Hogg, whose swallow dive in the corner was another clear sign of the confidence surging through the Scottish camp.
Laidlaw added the extras as well as another penalty to move the Scots 24 points ahead on the hour-mark. But they were down to 14 men soon after as Harley was given 10 minutes in the bin for interfering with an Argentina line-out.
Argentina were finally building some pressure but found their efforts halted by a string of Scotland fouls, giving referee Wayne Barnes no choice but to hand the Pumas a penalty try, converted by Juan Martin Hernandez.
It was an open game by this stage and Seymour spun off a Hernandez tackle to run in a fifth Scotland try from 15 yards out. Replacement kicker Duncan Weir converted but Argentina substitute scrum-half Cubelli ensured the Pumas did not go home humiliated with two late tries - both converted by Hernandez.