Scotland adds to Argentina gloom with 44-15 win
RESISTENCIA, Argentina (AP) Scotland bounced back spectacularly only a week after an historic loss to the United States by achieving a record-breaking 44-15 win over Argentina on Saturday in the last test of its rugby tour of the Americas.
Scrumhalf George Horne scored two tries on debut and brother Peter Horne kicked 14 points as Scotland, playing with skill and ambition in wet and slippery conditions, over-ran Argentina by six tries to two.
Scotland had already achieved its record score against Argentina when it led 36-3 at halftime, beating its previous highest tally in Argentina of 26 in 2008. Its win ended a depressing June for Argentina, which previously suffered a 2-0 home series defeat by Wales and seems in disarray a year out from the Rugby World Cup.
The Pumas were unable to give the send-off they hoped to departing coach Daniel Hourcade, who resigned after the second test loss to Wales, accepting responsibility and saying his players were no longer responding to his coaching. Under Hourcade, Argentina reached the semifinals of the 2015 Rugby World Cup but have since won only two of their last 18 tests.
Hourcade hands over the reins only a month out from the Rugby Championship with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and with the Pumas apparently lacking confidence and direction.
The set-pieces which were once their forte are a major weakness which Wales and Scotland exploited, scoring several tries from pressure imposed on the creaking Argentina scrum and lineout.
Argentina lacked energy at the breakdowns and its defense was lazy and lacking in physicality as it leaked five, mostly soft first-half tries.
Hourcade made five changes to his pack during the match, hoping to inject some energy, and Tomas Lavanini and Tomas Lezana provided some impact from the bench in an improved second-half performance.
But any hope that a record-setting season for the Buenos Aires-based Jaguares in Super Rugby – a team which includes most of the Argentina test lineup – would carry over to the test arena have been dashed.
The Pumas might take a tiny shred of comfort from the fact they were able to eventually staunch the flow of tries to outscore Scotland 12-8 in the second half.
Scotland, in contrast, firmly shut the door on last week’s shock 30-29 loss to the U.S. which followed their 48-10 win over Canada. Instead of showing any wariness as a result of that loss, a team with eight changes came out brimming with confidence and scored its first try, through George Horne, after only two minutes.
The Scotland forwards were able to hold the ball through long phases of play, not really challenged for possession by the Pumas at breakdowns. It was from one such series of phases from the kickoff that Horne opened the scoring.
Adam Hastings brought an array of kicking and passing skills to flyhalf, and fullback Stuart Hogg injected himself into the backline at timely intervals as the extra man.
Phase play again led to Scotland’s second try to winger Blair Kinghorn after eight minutes. Hooker and captain Stuart McInally scored from a lineout to give Scotland a 21-0 lead after only 14 minutes.
Magnus Bradbury scored from an overthrown lineout in the 21st, making it 28-3, and George Horne had his second try a minute before halftime when Hastings batted Horne’s chip kick into the arms of the scrumhalf.
Winger Dougie Fife celebrated his first test start in three years with Scotland’s only try of the second half.
Argentina gained some small consolation from tries after halftime to Lezana and Matias Orlando.