Match preview: Scotland v Argentina, Autumn Tests 2016

KO 5.00 at Murrayfield Stadium, Saturday 19th November
Live on BBC 2

There will be another bumper crowd at Murrayfield this weekend. With some improvements from the Australia game hopefully they will see a victory to go along with a good performance. Coach Vern Cotter will also be eyeing his 15th win in what will be his 30th game in charge of the national side.

SCOTLAND
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Sean Maitland
13 Huw Jones
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Tommy Seymour
10 Finn Russell
9 Greig Laidlaw (c)
HEAD-TO-HEAD
ADV Scotland
EVEN
ADV Scotland
EVEN
EVEN
ADV Argentina
ADV Scotland
ARGENTINA
15 Joaquin Tuculet
14 Matias Moroni
13 Matias Orlando
12 Juan Martin Hernandez
11 Santiago Cordero
10 Nicolas Sanchez
9 Martin Landajo

1 Allan Dell
2 Fraser Brown
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Grant Gilchrist
5 Jonny Gray
6 Magnus Bradbury
7 Hamish Watson
8 John Barclay
.
ADV Argentina
ADV Argentina
EVEN
EVEN
ADV Scotland
ADV Argentina
EVEN
ADV Argentina

1 Lucas Noguera Paz
2 Agustin Creevy (c)
3 Ramiro Herrera
4 Guido Petti
5 Matias Alemanno
6 Pablo Matera
7 Javier Ortega Desio
8 Facundo Isa

16 Ross Ford
17 Alex Allan
18 Moray Low
19 Tim Swinson
20 Ryan Wilson
21 Ali Price
22 Peter Horne
23 Tim Visser
.
ADV Scotland
EVEN
EVEN
ADV Scotland
ADV Argentina
ADV Argentina
EVEN
EVEN

16 Julian Montoya
17 Santiago Garia Botta
18 Enrique Pieretto
19 Leonardo Senatore
20 JM Leguizamon
21 Tomas Cubelli
22 Jeronimo de la Fuente
23 Juan Pablo Estelles

Overall

Backs – advantage Scotland
The Scottish backs started strongly against Australia but their attacking potency was fairly peripheral to the game in the second half. There are try threats throughout the back line though – a combined 43 in Test matches and they’ll be looking to add to that tally
Forwards – advantage Argentina
Fraser Brown (Glasgow’s best performer so far this season?), Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury have all had outstanding club seasons so far and now they need to bring that form to try and combat an Argentinian pack that may not be the scrummaging force of old but who can still use their power to dominate the breakdown.
Subs – even
There are some exciting players on the bench who will look to speed up the game against tired legs when they come on. For Scotland, Ali Price will give the opposition a very different threat to Greig Laidlaw. On the Argentinian side watch out for Juan Pablo Estelles, another graduate of the school of Santiago Gomez-Cora.

Team Talk

  • Scotland make 4 changes from the 23 that took on Australia with Richie Gray, John Hardie (both injured) Gordon Reid and Rory Hughes the men to miss out.
  • Greig Laidlaw is just 6 away from 500 points for Scotland.
  • First caps: Magnus Bradbury (Scotland cap no. 1078), Ali Price (Scotland cap no. 1079 – surely he’ll get a run this time?)
  • Magnus will be the 25th player to make his Scotland debut during head coach Vern Cotter’s 2 ½ years in charge.
  • Argentina’s starting XV is unchanged from their game against Wales. In fact with just 2 changes on the bench, coach Daniel Hourcade must be looking for a reaction from the same players responsible for a fairly insipid performance.

Previous results
This will be the 7th time these sides have met at Murrayfield with Roseburn Street proving to be a happy hunting ground for the Argentinians, sending their hosts tumbling to defeat 4 times in 6 matches:

W L L L L W

Last meeting in Edinburgh (8th November 2014):

Scotland 41-31 Argentina

Both sides have had a fairly dramatic turnover of players since that match with only 18 of the 46 on show that day returning (8 for Scotland and 10 for Argentina). The home side will actually start with exactly the same back line bar swapping Huw Jones for Mark Bennett. Beyond that though only Ross Ford and Jonny Gray remain from 2014’s matchday squad.

Stat to study

Tackles completed:
Scotland 121 of 126 (96%). Argentina 77 of 91 (85%).
While the win may have been set up by Scotland’s dominant first half a huge defensive effort in the second period was just as essential in closing out the game. The Scots barely saw the ball in the latter 40 minutes and spent almost half the time playing with 14 men after 2 yellow cards.

The brothers Gray were at the heart of the defence of course, as they no doubt will be again on Saturday. Richie made 10 tackles (none missed) and Jonny 13 (none missed). On this occasion though they were outshone by another young forward. Adam Ashe made his home debut for the national side and was both the top tackler (17 made, 1 missed) and top carrier, taking the ball up 13 times.

The intense effort was rather undone by a combination of fatigue and complacency which allowed Argentina to put 3 tries on the board in the last 11 minutes. This may have given the scoreline an undeservedly close complexion but it provides a salutary lesson in maintaining 100% focus for the full 80 minutes, a point further driven home by last week’s late, late defeat against Australia.

Argentina scouting report:

  • The Pumas out offloaded New Zealand when they went toe-to-toe with the All Blacks for 50 minutes in Hamilton – Scotland need to attack the passing options as well as the ball-carrier.
  • Nicholas Sanchez was the most effective goalkicker in The Rugby Championship – his opportunities have to be limited to prevent Argentina from keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
  • Facundo Isa is an absolutely monstrous ball carrier. He was ploughing a bit of a lone furrow though with little support from the rest of the pack last week against Wales. The Scottish defensive line need to double up and target him to reduce his effectiveness.
  • The Sanchez / Hernandez axis at 10 / 12 can be a weakness defensively, missing 7 of the 20 tackles they attempted in Cardiff.
  • Ramon Herrera’s discipline is a serious liability. He copped no less than 6 penalties at the Principality Stadium (in just 60 minutes on the pitch) and topped it off with 10 minutes in the sin bin.
  • 7s graduates’ Santiago Cordero and Matias Moroni are very dangerous wingers, but Argentina can struggle to get them into the game. If Scotland kick deep the chase has to be strong to prevent these players getting the away side on the front foot.

Officials:

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZRU)
Assistant Referees: Jerome Garces (FFR), Thomas Charabas (FFR)
TMO: Sean Davey (RFU)

This will be the second time in 4 games that Mr O’Keeffe has taken charge of a Scotland game. The Kiwi eye doctor was also the man in the middle for the first Test against Japan in June. He gave a good account of himself that day, in just his second international match. The young ref was clear in his communication and decisive when dealing with foul play.

For their part the Scottish players need their discipline to be more like the first half of the match against Australia (4 penalties conceded, 7 won) rather than the second period (8 penalties conceded and just 2 won). Those infringements gave Australia a lifeline and allowed them to dominate possession and territory late on.

The TMO may also have a significant say in the match. Which meant it was rather discouraging to see Mr. Davey award a questionable try for Wales last Saturday. It was clear from the replays that Liam Williams did not “…immediately reach out and ground the ball on or over the goal line” but rather shifted his entire body over the ball and then pushed it into the in-goal area. Hopefully Mr. Davey will have his specs on and law book in hand when it comes to Saturday’s game…


Picture courtesy of Adrian Henry for Rugby People.

Additional opposition research by honorary Argentinian, frillage.

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