Gregor Townsend hails Scotland after mauling Argentina
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was a satisfied man after watching his side demolish Argentina 44-15 in Resistencia.
From the first minute, all his selection gambles paid off and he could sit back and look at a job well done from his key players.
He was full of praise for young half-backs George Horne, who scored two of the tries, and Adam Hastings, who helped make both of them.
“There was about a 140-cap difference between the two sets of half backs and they are quality players in the Argentinian team, [Martin] Landajo and [Nicolas] Sanchez, I love watching them play,” Townsend remarked.
“That was a huge challenge for our guys on their second starts for Scotland, but they played with so much positivity, they went for gaps they knew were there, so that shows they were confident, they thrived in that environment. It was really encouraging for the future.
“Adam [Hastings] is a confident guy. He obviously did not have a brilliant experience last week, though there were some good things, lots of good things. It was great to see him put that behind him. All our team were very set about playing today especially when we turned up and the crowd was already in place.”
In fact just about everything Scotland tried in an all-action first half came off.
“Of course. This does not happen very much in Test match rugby, it happens even more rarely in club rugby when you go away from home and you execute almost everything in the first half,” Townsend said.
“It would probably have been try of the season if we had managed to score that in the first half after Adam’s chip.
“Apart from that, it was perfect play by our players. When you make the breakthrough and the score goes through seven to 14 to 21, it gives you great confidence that what you are doing is right.
“It forces the opposition to try things and takes their confidence away.”
Scotland started the game perfectly, launching an attack deep into the opposition 22 before Hastings spotted a gap close to the ruck, broke through and found Horne inside to take the scoring pass.
With Peter Horne, George’s older brother, making it a family affair by adding the conversion, it was the perfect start for the visitors.
It was made even better six minutes later when Nick Grigg found a similar gap, cut through and this time found Blair Kinghorn in position to take the scoring pass.
The Scots soon added a straightforward third try as Edinburgh’s Stuart McInally celebrated his first game as Scotland captain by taking the ball directly from a maul and crashing through to give himself a 20-metre run-in.
Argentina were still up for the challenge, relying on their strong forwards and slick handling to get them into the Scotland 22 where a collapsed scrum handed fly half Sanchez the chance to put his side on the scoreboard.
Scotland hit back straight away, with an overthrown line-out handing them possession in the Pumas’ 22 and the forwards pummelling the line until Edinburgh flanker Magnus Bradbury managed to get there. Peter Horne’s conversion broke Scotland’s record score in Argentina, overtaking the 26 they managed in 2008.
With Peter Horne then adding a penalty, Scotland were cruising. A scintillating first half came to a close when a cheeky chip-kick from George Horne – with a penalty coming anyway – was tipped back into his hands by Hastings to give him Scotland’s fifth try and send the tourists into the break 36-3 in front.
As the replacements came into the game, the Pumas did register a try when flanker Tomas Lezana pounced on a loose ball to power his way over.
Though the Scots did extend their lead through Peter Horne’s second penalty, there was more encouragement for the home fans when Santiago Gonzales Iglesias, newly on at centre, crashed through straight from a scrum.
In between, Scotland had claimed their sixth try as a huge cut-out pass from Stuart Hogg put Dougie Fife over for his second try of the tour, but the shape had really gone out of the game as both sides huffed and puffed to the end.