SCRUM Columnist Stephen Brunsdon looks back at the Scotland-Argentina match and how the home backline played:
Three minutes from time, both Greig Laidlaw and Vern Cotter must have thought history was about to repeat itself. The Captain’s penalty rebounding off the same post that denied Scotland victory against Australia a week previously looked to have cost them for the second match running.
But the Clermont-bound Gloucester man banished those painful memories by slotting a final minute penalty to snatch a 19-16 win over Argentina. In doing so, Laidlaw epitomised a backs performance that was quietly effective, if not spectacular.
One player that struggled to really shine amidst a myriad of stand-out performances last weekend but was able to do so against Los Pumas was winger Sean Maitland. The New Zealand-born player was instrumental in securing what little possession the home side had in the second period, using his aerial skills to steal ball off his opposite number.
Maitland also showcased his prowess as a finisher by touching down for Scotland’s sole try. His defensive work no doubt impressed Cotter as well, especially in conjunction with Finn Russell’s probing grubbers pinning the Argentinians in their own half.
Russell himself had another solid game at 10 and probably had the edge over opposing out-half Nicolás Sanchez throughout the match.
Though he rarely had chances to break the defensive lines, Russell found space in behind and used his boot to cleverly help Scotland gain valuable territory.
In the centre both Huw Jones and Alex Dunbar showed up well in a game that was dominated by forwards on both sides. Jones in particular highlighted why he was originally selected by Cotter for the summer tour in Japan by setting up Maitland’s try at a pivotal point in the match.
The Stormers player exhibited strength to fend off the attentions of Iso and Cordero before offloading brilliantly to Maitland out of the tackle. It was a pass that needed to be made and under immense pressure, Scotland finally found themselves on the front foot.
Stuart Hogg was full of zip in the second half, having finally got his hands on the ball. Quick feet and excellent vision in attack got Scotland close to a breakthrough try in the closing stages, but it was ultimately left to one man to get us across the finishing line.
That man was, and always would be, Laidlaw. Safe for an agonising penalty miss three minutes from time, the scrum-half had a near faultless performance, capped off perfectly by his calm and poise in kicking the match-winning penalty after the clock ran out.
It was a far from perfect performance from the team, but Cotter took pride in the fact his team was able to close out a tight arm-wrestle of a match. They will need a combination of both Autumn Test games to come out on top against Georgia on Saturday in Kilmarnock.
Scotland’s Autumn Tests continue on Saturday against Georgia – ‘Keep It SCRUM’ for the best previews and reaction
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