Preview: Scotland v Argentina

Date published: November 18 2016

Scotland will fancy their chances to claim a Southern Hemisphere scalp when they host Argentina at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Scotland play their second Rugby Championship side in two weeks when they clash with Argentina. The Scots will be keen to rectify their close 23-22 loss to Australia last weekend and will be confident considering their recent record against Argentina.

The Pumas are also coming off a close loss, as they went down 24-20 to Wales last weekend in a game they probably could have won, in a game where both sides scored two tries.

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Vern Cotter believes his side showed signs of growth against Australia last weekend.

“Every week we want to improve. We did a lot of good things against Australia: we scored three tries to their two, we were aggressive in attack and our defence held strong for the most part,” said Cotter.

“While it’s disappointing we didn’t walk off with the win, I’m proud of the courage the players showed and the way they adapted to changes on the paddock due to injuries.

“Saturday’s game is going to be a different challenge for us, both physically and mentally, against a very dangerous Argentina side.

“They have the capacity to vary their game so we have to be prepared for whatever approach they take, though we can expect them to look to dominate the set piece as a starting point, be very explosive around the rucks and look to get their offloading game up and running.

“We will have to be disciplined and make sure we capitalise on every opportunity we create.”

Argentina flanker Javier Ortega Desio says they didn’t play to their full capacity against Wales and will focus on being better on attack against Scotland.

“We need to play the rugby we are used to. Last weekend I think we were a little bit shy. I don’t know if we were tired. We were very aggressive with our defence, but with the offence we did nothing. We made bad decisions and we didn’t get in position quickly enough to get our structure, and if we don’t have our structure then the number nine and number ten can’t make the decisions,” Ortega Desio told The Herald Scotland.

“We are used to a dynamic game now and teams from Europe play differently, they play like we used to play – they are very strong and very good at scrums and line-out, so sometimes it is difficult for us to be dynamic. Scotland have improved their game in the last few years and they are a really dangerous team, so we need to be focused and concentrate on our game if we want to win this match.”

Scotland have made minor changes to their side. In the forward pack Grant Gilchrist and Fraser Brown are promoted from the bench in place of the injured Richie Gray, who has a suspected concussion. Ross Ford is named among the replacements to complete the changes to the forwards. Magnus Bradbury gets a start at blindside flank. Bradbury’s starting berth sees John Barclay move to number eight, with Hamish Watson returning to the seven jersey. Tommy Seymour starting at left wing is the only change to the backline.

Argentina have kept their side unchanged barring Santiago Cordero starting at wing at the expense of Ramiro Moyano who drops out of the squad completely.

Players to watch: Since pulling on a Scotland jersey Huw Jones has been spectacular in midfield. The quick yet burly centre punches holes in the defensive line with ease while also linking with this outside backs well. He was incredible against Australia, making nine tackles and scoring two tries, and if he carries that form forward the Argentine defence is going to have a torrid time.

He took a dip in form last week so expect a fiery display from number eight Facundo Isa this week. Arguably one of the best eighth-men in the world, Isa has had a meteoric rise to the top in 2016. He is the complete eighth-man as he is incredible on defence, controls the break down well while breaking the gain line every time he runs with the ball.

Head-to-head: The battle at the back will be important with two exciting full-backs, Joaquín Tuculet and Stuart Hogg, squaring off against each other. Tuculet has been a consistent attacking threat this season but after a poor game last weekend he should be out to prove himself against Scotland this weekend. Hogg too adds his own attacking flair as he showed against Australia last weekend, making 87 metres on a attack while darting through the defence on many occasion. Young Edinburgh flanker Magnus Bradbury will take to the international stage for the first time and expect a big game from him. The big flanker will front up against Argentine bulldozer Pablo Matera who was excellent last weekend after having a good showing on defence as well as beating three defenders on attack.

Previous results:

2014: Scotland won 41-31 at Murrayfield
2014: Scotland won 21-19 in Cordoba
2011: Argentina won 13-12 in Wellington
2010: Scotland won 13-9 in Mar del Plata
2010: Scotland won 24-16 in Tucuman
2009: Argentina won 9-6 at Murrayfield
2008: Scotland won 24-16 in Buenos Aires
2008: Argentina won 21-15 in Rosario
2007: Argentina won 19-13 in Paris (RWC)
2005: Argentina won 23-19 at Murrayfield
2001: Argentina won 25-16 at Murrayfield
1999: Argentina won 31-22 at Murrayfield
1994: Argentina won 19-17 at Ferrocaril Oeste

Prediction: Scotland weren’t quite able to contain Australia last weekend and Argentina should be a very similar expansive-attacking threat. Argentina by 5.

The teams:

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 John Barclay, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Tim Visser

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles

Date: Saturday, November 19
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Thomas Charabas (France)
TMO: Shaun Davey (England)