Scottish Determination Too Much For Frustrated Pumas

There was no crying in Argentina for Gregor Townsend’s Scotland team as they dominated Argentina, finishing off their summer tour with a 15-44 win. In Resistencia, young players proved their worth, the referee excelled himself and the Scots exhibited ruthless determination. Erin McRitchie takes us through it all.

Townsend’s men ended their Summer Tour on a high, with a win in Argentina (Photo from Scottish Rugby)

Match report

It took Adam Hastings just one minute against the Pumas to restore some Scottish faith that may have been lost against the USA Eagles.

Hastings found himself in space, with George Horne in support shouting for the ball as they came upon the last line of Argentinian defence. Seconds later the younger Horne went across the line for his first try for Scotland – made all the more special by the fact that brother Pete Horne converted the score.

Just shy of ten minutes later, it was centre Nick Grigg who identified the gap, with Blair Kinghorn – playing on the wing this week – running the support line. Grigg’s quick pass found Kinghorn who scored the Scots second try, though, had the young Edinburgh star not been so tall, the pass would have soared over his head.

From this point on, the Pumas defence seemed to disintegrate as the Scots undeniably overpowered their Argentinian counterparts. Stuart McInally’s one-on-one battle for the line with Argentina’s fly half Nicholas Sanchez – where the Scot came out on top, scoring five points – was described by commentator Rory Lawson as “a tackle of nightmares” for the half back.

Magnus Bradbury claimed a score for the forwards – the powerhouse flanker not only started the attacking drive, but also made himself available to finish off the drive with one last powerful surge.

George Horne and Hastings combined once again as – with some flair, and just two minutes before half time – the fly half chipped a kick over the Pumas defenders and Hastings, unable to receive the pass, had the ingenuity to knock the ball backwards where it fell straight into the waiting hands of Horne.

And so, the teams returned to the changing rooms with the half time score standing at 3-36, in the Scots favour.

However, it was the Pumas that scored the first try of the second half as – upon 50 minutes – flanker Tomas Lezana caught a ball which had rebounded off Ben Toolis, and Sanchez added the extras.

They didn’t have much time to revel in their newly scored points – three minutes later, Dougie Fife went across the whitewash in the corner. His score was as a result of an attacking formation – set up by Scottish backs Hogg, Hastings and Kinghorn – straight behind the scrum.

The only score of the game which required TMO assistance came in the 58th minute. Argentinian substitute Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias believed he had scored, whilst referee Mathieu Raynal needed reassurance. A couple of re-watched frames later and the try was awarded.

This would prove to be the last score of a game to forget for Daniel Hourcade’s Pumas side. Their frustration was tangible throughout as they seemed unable to utilise any of their chances, as Scotland over-ran them in terms of fluidity – exemplifying the fitness and tempo which they have come to pride themselves on under Townsend.

Pitch perfect half-back duo

Great chemistry and a solid understanding of one another’s style are synonymous with a successful half-back pairing, the likes of Laidlaw and Rutherford. And if last weekend’s game is anything to go by, another pitch-perfect Scottish duo may be flourishing in the form of Horne and Hastings.

Former internationalist Rory Lawson, on commentary, certainly seemed to agree as he deemed Horne a “little pocket rocket” and proclaimed that Hastings was “running the show”.

Lawson wasn’t wrong – the duo combined for two tries and were continually organising both forward and back divisions at the breakdown. They also seem to have the inexplicable ability to read one another’s moves – Hastings seems to have skill for identifying gaps in the opposition defence, and when finding himself in them, Horne is always there to provide the supporting line.

Horne and Hastings, amongst other young players, have definitely impressed on during this tour (Photo from journalist Jamie Lyall twitter)

Determined youngsters

Throughout these three recent games, it has been evident that one of the main initiatives of this year’s summer tour was to evaluate younger players in an international environment and to experiment with them in different line-ups.

Of the young players that have taken part in the tour, five names have stood out amongst the rest: Magnus Bradbury, Lewis Carmichael, Adam Hastings, George Horne and Blair Kinghorn. These five men have had prominent impact upon the forwards and the backs. Every single one of them has scored a try, been instrumental in attacking breaks and has shown dogged determination in defence.

Bradbury and Carmichael have emerged as two barnstorming ball carriers and resilient defenders at the breakdown. Horne and Hastings’s talents for controlling the line and making breaks of their own have become apparent. Whilst Kinghorn has warranted praise for his exuberant runs and his growing confidence in his own abilities.

All five also seemed to have gelled well with the experience provided by some older players around them, as David Denton has returned to the back-row with command over his position in the scrum, Pete Horne has supported the young duo from centre and Stuart Hogg has provided support at fullback.

Whilst they now return to pre-season with Edinburgh and Glasgow – and will have to continue to prove themselves at their respective clubs – it is unimaginable that Townsend will go in to this year’s autumn test without these five emerging talents in his squad.

Referee excels in communication

Good referees are authoritative and respectful, but they also possess somewhat of an affinity with the players they are presiding over. Above everything, communication is paramount, especially in a rugby union game, as it is such a combative environment.

Last weekend’s referee Mathieu Raynal had a standout performance of his own – impressing commentators and fans alike. In striving to give equal understanding to both sets of players he spoke English to the Scots and Spanish to the Argentinians. This show of determination to ensure that all players were kept informed was phenomenal to watch.

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