Argentina 16-24 Scotland, Tucuman, June 12
Scots score historic victory over Pumas
June 12, 2010
Scotland's Dan Parks lines up a shot at goal during the clash in Tucuman
© PA Photos
Scotland recorded a stunning 24-16 victory over Argentina in their clash at the Estadio Monumental Jose Fierro in Tucuman.
Fly-half Dan Parks was the star of the show for the tourists - kicking all of his side's points courtesy of six penalties and two drop goals to cap an outstanding individual display but it was a superb high-octane team performance - arguably Scotland's finest away showing in recent memory - that laid the platform for their historic triumph.
The victory was only Scotland's third ever success against their South American rivals while the defeat was also the Pumas' first in Tucuman in eight outings. First half tries from Gonzalo Tiesi and flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon and a penalty from the boot of fly-half Felipe Contepomi had given the hosts a narrow half-time lead but a solitary penalty from their No.10 was all they could muster in the second period.
Scotland entered the clash looking to kick on from their Six Nations victory over Ireland and avenge their defeat to the Pumas last November. That result extended Scotland's miserable record against the Pumas to eight defeats in the last nine meetings, the one exception being a series-levelling success in Buenos Aires two years ago. The two sides will also line up alongside each other in Pool B at next year's Rugby World Cup.
Scotland showed plenty of attacking intent early on but they were hit by a classic counter attack by the Pumas. Max Evans coughed the ball up in midfield and Horacio Agulla injected some pace down the touchline before feeding Contepomi who in turn found Tiesi with a scoring pass. The Scots rallied well with a strong run from centre Graeme Morrison and another from Sean Lamont and although Parks' cross kick failed to find Evans, he was on target with a penalty when play was eventually called back.
A superb touch finder from Argentina's Martin Rodriguez then had the Scots on the back foot and a poor throw at the lineout from Ross Ford gifted the scrum feed to the hosts. The Pumas' pack then drew a penalty that Contepomi slotted to edge his side further ahead. The Scots continued to give the ball some air and although Parks was wide with a drop goal attempt he was aware that another penalty was coming his way but he was also wayward with that effort.
Contepomi snaffled an interception midway through the half but lacked the pace to escape the cover defence and was brought down by an excellent tap tackle from Nick de Luca. Some enterprising play from back row duo Kelly Brown and John Barclay brought further reward with a penalty that Parks landed from long range to bring his side to within two points.
The powerful Pumas pack led the fightback and took their side up to the Scotland 22 where they met a solid defensive wall. But a clever cross kick from Contepomi found Agulla and he passed inside to Leguizamon who showed great strength to hold off Evans before stretching for the line. However, the Television Match Official was required to confirm the score that Contepomi failed to convert.
Argentina continued to feel the wrath of the referee at the breakdown and Dave Pearson issued a warning to captain Contepomi while Parks lined up another shot at the posts - but he pulled the relatively simple chance wide of the posts. The home side soon offered him another chance to redeem himself and this time he made the long range kick with ease.
The Pumas failed to heed the warnings from the referee and their latest infringement in their bid to snuff out a promising Scotland attack saw Leguizamon sent to the sin-bin. In a statement of intent, Scotland then opted for the scrum and the ball was worked wide to Lamont who dived for the corner and claimed the score only to be denied by the TMO. There was still time in the half to orchestrate one more opening and Parks' well-struck drop goal brought his side to within a point as the sides headed to the tunnel.
The Scots began the second half well with Johnnie Beattie galloping through a gap in midfield but support was lacking allowing the 14-men Pumas to clear their lines. Evans was the next to attract the attention of the Argentina defence but he was also isolated and penalised for holding on.
A neat chip through from Barclay then had Pumas replacement Lucas Amorosino scampering back and the home side cleared the danger but not for long. An offside penalty against Pumas lock Patricio Albacete for coming in from the side allowed Parks to kick his side into the lead for the first time in the game.
The Pumas rallied by rediscovering their attacking edge and several powerful phases took them deep into the Scots' 22 where Lamont was lucky to escape with just a warning for deliberately killing the ball. The hosts looked to turn the screw at the resulting scrum but several resets robbed them of momentum before an early engagement saw the Scots handed the ball.
It was then Scotland's turn to press with the boot of Parks relieving the pressure before De Luca failed to find replacement scrum-half Mike Blair in space down the short side after a rare turnover promised more. Argentina's eagerness to wrestle back control of the game led to another penalty and Parks drilled his effort over the posts from fully 50m to cement his side's lead. And the Glasgow No.10 looked to land an even more audacious effort moments later but a poor contact saw his kick drift wide.
Some great improvised footwork from Evans almost opened up the Pumas as the game entered the last ten minutes and although denied they worked the ball from the lineout and Parks landed a drop goal to edge his side nearer the win.
Replacement Alasdair Strokosch was then penalised for taking Alfredo Lalanne out in the air and as the scrum-half was stretchered from the field, Contepomi slotted the penalty to close the gap to five points with their first points of the half.
The Pumas opted for adventure from the re-start but further woe at the breakdown allowed Parks to take his personal tally to 24 points and his side to within sight of a famous victory. Argentina refused to concede defeat and took the game deep into the Scots' 22 only to be thwarted by the whistle once again for coming in from the side and with that chance went their remote hopes of a late turnaround.
Victory ensures Scotland will return home with at least a draw from the two-Test series and they will relish the chance to clinch back-to-back victories in Mar del Plata next weekend.