Pumas burst Scotland's bubble

30th Nov 2009, 09:27

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Stalemate: Captains Juan Martin Fernandez and Chris Cusiter can't break free

Stalemate: Captains Juan Martin Fernandez and Chris Cusiter can't break free

The joy at Scotland's win over Australia was short-lived as a late Martin Rodriguez drop goal saw Argentina to a 9-6 win on Saturday.

The joy at Scotland's win over Australia last week was short-lived as a late Martin Rodriguez drop goal saw Argentina to a 9-6 win at Murrayfield on Saturday.

It was a cold cold day in Edinburgh and the first half did nothing at all to warm the digits of the hardy souls who had braved Murrayfield's icy gates.

Scotland ran the ball with purpose of mind early on but despite some stretch marks appearing on the surface of the Pumas' defence, it held firm. Scotland soon ran out of ideas - indeed when it came to creative moves actually designed to create and cut a gap, there were few real ideas on show.

Ben Cairns and Sean Lamont came closest to breaching the wall, with the former taking a good drift ball but looking the wrong way for support and the latter making a swerving incisive run which did cause some panic but also swerved away from support.

Argentina offered nothing beyond grunt and kicking. Federico Martin Aramburu dazzled with a turn of pace at one point under a Scottish kick but nobody ran any kind of threatening supporting line.

The forwards did pressure some penalties but the territory counted against them and Scotland's willingness to at least try and keep the ball in hand starved them of much opportunity. After 27 minutes, Argentina had made 50 tackles and Scotland had made just eight.

Scotland also forced penalties, with the tactic of running the ball back from deep into Argentina's half ensuring that they were in kickable range. Phil Godman missed two easy ones (Martin Rodriguez missed one too, is there something about Murrayfield this year?) but landed two others and Scotland led 6-0 at half-time in an utterly forgettable game of rugby.

The second half began no better. Rodriguez's restart did not go ten metres and there was a hail of aerial balls punctuated by 16 phases of Argentinean forward drives, that punctuated by a penalty to Scotland.

Boredom may have been the motivation behind Nathan Hines' decision to upend Lucas Borges and dump him onto his shoulder-blades, whatever it was it earned Hines a needless yellow card and Rodriguez a second shot at goal, which he took well to make it 6-3.

In the interim, Rory Lamont left the field with what looked like a nasty ankle injury. The game was interrupted for a while and when it resumed, Argentina were better, a lot better. The forwards got some cohesion and began to bulldoze inroads, with one lengthy move culminating in an easy match-levelling penalty.

On that went for a bit, but Chris Cusiter's 50m break changed the momentum again. Scotland again stretched the fibre of the Puma defence, this time with all sorts of little tears and holes beginning to open up. Twelve minutes remained.

Fernandez had a stab at a lead-grabbing drop goal but it fell short and left, while Scotland continued to spread the ball again, seeing if tired legs could cover as well as the fresher ones at the start of the match. Time ticked on and it eventually became evident they could.

Then came the sucker punch Argentina were always in danger of delivering. Good territory, well-driven ball and a sweetly-struck drop goal from Rodriguez with two minutes left sealed the deal.

Last weekend was supposed to be some sort of rebirth of Scottish rugby but this match made all the more apparent how freakish that win over Australia might have been.

Man of the match: Well, nobody really stood out. But Alan Lewis did pretty well in testing conditions.

Moment of the match: The winning drop goal might be about the only thing anybody will remember of this game in a couple of months' time.

Villain of the match: That was an ugly tackle, Nathan Hines...

The scorers:

For Scotland:
Pens: Godman 2

For Argentina:
Pens: Rodriguez 2
Drop goal: Rodriguez

Yellow card: Hines (Scotland, 50, dangerous tackle)

Scotland: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Alex Grove, 11 Thom Evans, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Alan MacDonald, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Moray Low, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Jason White, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Chris Paterson, 22 Nick De Luca.

Argentina: 15 Horacio Agulla, 14 Lucas Borges, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Martin Rodriguez, 11 Federico Martin Aramburu, 10 Santiago Fernandez, 9 Alfredo Lalanne, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (capt), 7 Alejandro Abadie, 6 Alejandro Campos, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Martin Scelzo, 2 Alberto Vernet Basualdo, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Rodrigo Roncero, 18 Estaban Lozada, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Agustin Figuerola, 21 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 22 Horacio San Martin.

Date: Saturday, November 28
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 14.30 GMT
Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Stuart Terheege (England)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Assessor: Michel Lamoulie (France)