2022 Rugby Championship: Team of the Tournament

2022 Rugby Championship: Team of the Tournament

It’s been a thrilling (and sometimes controversial) couple of months, but the 2022 Rugby Championship is now in the rearview mirror. In one of the closest tournaments to date, arguably the worst performing All Blacks team in years managed to come away with a win that will now surely keep Ian Foster in his job through to the end of the Rugby World Cup (sorry kiwis).

And now all that remains is for me to pick my Team of the Tournament. While I may use some stats to help me decide and sometimes back up my argument, this is largely done of feel from how the games went. I’d love to hear your own selections to, so let me know in the comments! And so without further ado, my Team of the Tournament is…


1) Ethan de Groot: Honestly, I’m shocked at how long Ian Foster stuck with George Bower’s awful defensive performances when de Groot was looking by far the more reliable player, but he was given the start in Round 2 and quickly solidified his place in the team with a series of reliable performances, while also helping to make the New Zealand scrum a formidable weapon.

2) Samisoni Taukei’aho: The decline of Codie Taylor and Dane Coles has been all too clear in 2022, but luckily for the All Blacks, it has coincided with the rise of Taukei’aho. The Chiefs hooker does not have the same pace as those who came before him, but makes up for that with great power and maximum effort around the park, and ended as the tournament’s top try scorer with 5, which helps him just beat out Malcolm Marx for a spot in this team.

3) Tyrel Lomax: Completing and all-New Zealand front row is Tyrel Lomax. Like de Groot on the other side of the scrum, he was given the chance to start in Round 2 and looks to have secured the number 3 shirt with a series of solid performances, making the scruma weapon while also providing a dynamic carrying option in the loose

4 & 5) Eben Etzebeth & Matías Alemanno: One of the most experienced and consistent locks in the world, Etzebeth consistently just goes about his business in both attack and defence and rarely gets the plaudits he deserves. Likewise Alemanno, who is so reliable both in defence and the set piece and does so much good without ever really standing out in highlight reels.

6) Juan Martín González: One of the breakout stars of 2022. The 21-year-old London Irish flanker has secured himself in the Pumas’ first choice back row in place of more recognisable names, and it’s understandable why, as he always seems to be in the right pace at the right time, ending the tournament with 4 tries (beaten only by Taukei’aho) and video footage of a sidestep on Willie le Roux that will be appearing in YouTube compilations for years to come.

7) Fraser McReight: Marcos Kremer is unlucky to miss out on a spot here, but McReight had the unenviable task of coming in at the eleventh hour to take the spot of talismanic captain Michael Hooper, and despite his lack of international experience, he performed with aplomb until being inexplicably dropped for the matches against New Zealand, ending with 3 tries.

8) Ardie Savea: Jasper Wiese is unlucky to miss out on a spot here, but he was playing for a team generally on the front foot, whereas Ardie Savea was often one of the best players on the pitch even when the rest of the New Zealand performance would be described as (to put it nicely) dire. Despite missing Round 5, he still finished joint-1ˢᵗ for carries, 1ˢᵗ for offloads and 2ⁿᵈ among forwards for metres carried.

9) Jaden Hendrikse: Who had Faf de Klerk losing the Springboks 9 jersey to a 22-year-old who started the season with just a handful of caps in their predictions for 2022. Such has been the form of Hendrikse though. Provides quick ball as the Boks try to play a more open game, but also puts in the inch-perfect kicks when South Africa went to their territory game.

10) Richie Mo’unga: Almost wins the spot by default as Santiago Carreras gets used to the position while Australia and South Africa chopped and changed at the position. But that’s not to say Mo’unga played poorly. Controlled games well and his goal kicking kept the scoreboard turning over, while he looked better as the team around him began to improve following Joe Schmidt’s arrival.

11) Marika Koroibete: A consistent performer while the Wallabies’ team performances fluctuate wildly, but still had some performances where he was near-unplayable. His workrate in some games was incredible, but arguably lucky not to be penalised for that try-saver on Makazole Mapimpi.

12) Damian de Allende: Maybe struggled at times with his decision making as the ball went wide on attack, but so reliable with his direct carries and his defence, while also had to take on more responsibility with the loss of midfield partner Lukhanyo Am midway through the tournament and the chopping and changing of players at flyhalf.

13) Len Ikitau: Lukhanyo Am almost earned the spot despite missing half of the tournament, while Matías Moroni’s chances were harmed by Argentina’s inconsistency. However in a Wallabies backline that was constantly changing through injuries, Len Ikitau did a solid job of providing some consistency at a key position.

14) Emiliano Boffelli: Always a danger in the air and arguably not targeted enough in some games, what was most noticeable was how Boffelli’s kicking percentages off the tee were much better as he became the main kicker, leading to him equalling Richie Mo’unga’s points haul a the top of the stats sheet.

15) Jordie Barrett: An argument could certainly be made that his best game came at 12, but was also highly reliable at fullback. Finished the tournament in the top 1 for points scored, offloads, carries, metres carried and defenders beaten.

2022 Rugby Championship Round 6: South Africa v Argentina

2022 Rugby Championship Round 6: South Africa v Argentina

The 2022 Rugby Championship reached it’s finale on Saturday with South Africa taking on Argentina in Durban. Following New Zealand’s victory over Australia at Eden Park, South Africa knew that in order to win the title they would need not just a bonus point victory, but also a winning marking of at least 40 points.

And after a close and physical start, the Boks got the ball down across the line following a 5 metre lineout, Eben Etzebeth getting over, however it was adjudged that Etzebeth had played the ball back to Siya Kolisi before taking the ball back off him from a position in front of him, so the try was disallowed. The Springboks were keeping ball in hand and putting pressure on with attack after attack, and after 15 minutes the pressure told as an accumulation of penalties saw Marcos Kremer sent to the bin, and the Springboks took advantage of the missing forward a few minutes later to drive a 5m scrum over the line, allowing Jasper Wiese to dot down as the first quarter came to an end. The South African pressure continued, as did the Argentinian penalties, and within moments of Kremer returning to the pitch, his fellow back row Juan Martín González was sent to the bin for collapsing a maul, and though the first chance the Boks had saw Willie le Roux held up over the line, the next saw skipper Kolisi peel off a rotating maul to crash over for try number 2, while the Pumas were dealt an extra blow by the loss of Pablo Matera to injury. After 30 minutes of almost constant defence, a strong driving maul from the Pumas allowed them to kick a penalty into the hosts’ 22, but their attack came to nothing as Joel Sclavi—on early after Eduardo Bello struggled in the scrums—ran a blatant blacking line just 5m out from the try line. As the second sin bin perod came to an end, South Africa’s decision to go only for tries came to a confusing end as Frans Steyn kicked a penalty from well inside his own half, and that decision was made to look even more questionable in the grand scheme of things as Gonzalo Bertranou sniped over from close range just before halftime following a clever kick to the corner from Santiago Carreras, which left the teams going in at the break with a 17-7 scoreline.

Having ended the first half on the front foot, the Pumas continued that pressure at the start of the second, with a brave tackle from Canan Moodie stopping Julián Montoya from scoring off a clever move at the front of the lineout, while their next attack was ended by Joel Scavi being penalised for rolling on the floor after contact. However they kept coming and after attacking down the blind side, a lovely step from Juan Martín González saw him wrong foot le Roux and go over in the corner, Boffelli’s conversion cutting the lead to just 3 points. The Boks surely knew that winning the tournament was out of reach by this point and that they should focus on winning the game, and the 54ᵗʰ minute saw a strong driving maul collapsed short of the line for a penalty try, with Jeronimo de la Fuente becoming the 3ʳᵈ Argentina player to receive a yellow card in the match. In deteriorating conditions, Eben Etzebeth was given a yellow card as a push while chasing a kick led to Emiliano Boffelli being contacted in the air. With the game now 14v14, the Pumas used the penalty to kick into the 22, but their driving maul was held up over the line, but another strong driving maul minutes later saw Faf de Klerk sent to the bin for collapsing it, and as de la Fuente returned to the pitch, the Pumas used their 2-man advantage to eventually send Matías Moroni over for the try, Boffelli’s conversion again making it a 3-point game with 11 minutes remaining. With Etzebeth returning, South Africa were back on the attack, and another strong lineout drive saw them earn a second penalty try of the game, with Sclavi making his way to the sin bin for the final minutes. with 5 minutes remaining and de Klerk back on the pitch, the hosts were able to add a sweetener to the victory by putting Kurt-Lee Arendse over with the final play of the game to put an extra shine on the scoreline, but the 38-21 victory was not enough to overturn New Zealand at the top of the table.

Costly Call

Why did South Africa go for goal just before half time? Granted Frans Steyn is an expert at kicking from range, but that is still a risky kick, and in this match the reward just didn’t make sense.

In a one-off match it would be understandable, as it sends a message to the opposition that any penalties around the halfway line could be 3 points, while with the score at 14-0 it made it a 3-score game. But this was not just any game, this was a match where the Boks needed to score 3 tries more than their opponent and win by a 40-point margin, so at 14-0, a penalty kick doesn’t really help much.

But it’s not as if South Africa were even really struggling. They had dominated the vast majority of the half and were winning penalties with most attacks, so even if the driving maul wasn’t working at 100% they should have still felt comfortable about kicking down into the Pumas 22 and putting together one more attack before halftime, which incidentally would have taken away the couple of minutes that the Pumas utilised to score their own try.

It may not seem like much at the one moment, but it highlights the importance of each decision, as what could have been a halftime lead of 21-0 (and maybe even another yellow card for the Pumas) ended up becoming a 17-7 lead. One could argue that this was the decision that lost them the Championship.

Penalised

If you thought Australia’s discipline was poor, the Pumas said “Hold my beer” and put on a masterclass of how not to play defensively, with penalties coming with far too much frequency.

It’s something that we sadly see too often with the Pumas in recent years: if you play one-up rugby against them then their defensive line will dominate you, but if you look for the short passes around or in the contact—as South Africa were doing here, running hard and then offloading in contact—it puts the defence on the back foot and they are too slow to reorganise, leading to a number of cheap offside penalties and then stupid penalties at the breakdown as players try to slow the ball down to give the defence time to recover.

And then there were also the moronic penalties from Joel Sclavi. Brought on to sure up a struggling scrum, his dumb and wholly avoidable penalties ended 2 promising attacks for the Pumas 5m for the South African line, before he ended his game by collapsing a maul for the penalty try that eventually secured the game for South Africa.

Argentina have shown that on their day they can beat anyone. But if they want to start beating other top teams with regularity, which they will need to in order to win a tournament, then Michael Cheika desperately needs to work hard on preparing a defence that can stay organised and retreat with the same effectiveness as they do coming forward.

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2022 Rugby Championship Round 5: Argentina v South Africa

2022 Rugby Championship Round 5: Argentina v South Africa

After a few days of arguing who messed up more out of Mathieu Raynal and Bernard Foley, we finally reached the second half of round 5, which saw the Pumas hosting South Africa in Buenos Aires. The Springboks had stuck with the same starting XV that demolished Australia 2 weeks ago but went behind after 8 minutes when Franco Mostert’s hands in the ruck allowed Emiliano Boffelli to kick a penalty from halfway, though Damian Willemse soon cancelled this out with a penalty of his own from much closer in and both kickers missed their next attempt from range. It was the South Africans who made the first chance of note, going to the blind side created off a lineout maul to get Canan Moodie up to the try line, and while Jaden Hendrikse was held up with his pick-and-go, it was only through the efforts of Santiago Carreras, who had been in an offside position, leading to a penalty try for the visitors. Boffelli soon cut the lead with a penalty, but the Boks won a penalty off the restart and went to the corner, and while they were unable to drive the maul over, the ball went out to the backs and Hendrikse soon found space on the fringe of a ruck to snipe over between the posts. As the penalty count began to rise from the Pumas, the Springboks took full advantage, going to the corner again and driving Malcolm Marx over for their third try, Argentina welcoming Carreras back to the pitch but now down 6-22. A clever lineout move saw Siya Kolisi release Marx into the Pumas 22, and with the defence under heavy pressure, a series of penalties saw Gonzalo Bertranou sent to the bin, but South Africa were unable to add another try before the break, as Mostert fumbled the lineout and though he eventually knocked the ball backwards, referee James Doleman decreed that as the ball was initially lost forward and Mostert never recovered control, it was a knock-on.

If the first half had been mainly fought in the tight, the second half was a display of open rugby as both teams looked to play the ball with very little thought for it’s security, and while the Pumas were suddenly looking a threat despite the numerical disadvantage, poor passing and handling skills—and an interception from Damian de Allende—cost them a couple of early chances. However the extra pressure was drawing penalties from the Springboks, which led to Willie le Roux being sent to the bin on the hour, though yet another handling error from the Pumas allowed South Africa to clear their lines. The hosts finally got across the line on 65 minutes as Cubelli went off the back of a scrum only to be held up over the line, however Kwagga Smith’s actions to hold him up were deemed illegal, resulting in a penalty try and a yellow card for the flanker. And with a 2-man advantage, the Pumas were soon scoring again, with a flat inside pass from Marcos Kremer releasing Matías Moroni, who rounded any remaining defenders to ground under the posts—despite every attempt from the TMO to find a loss of control in the grounding. With their lead cut to 2 but le Roux returning to the field, a penalty allowed the Boks their first real opportunity in the Pumas 22 since the first half, and a series of phases battering the home defence soon saw Damian de Allende fight his way over beneath the posts, Frans Steyn’s conversion making it a 2-score game with 5 minutes remaining. And the Boks secured the win in the final minute as they spread the ball through the hands to release Makazole Mapimpi down the left, with the wing drawing the final defender and playing the ball back inside to Marx for his second try, Steyn kicking the conversion for a 20-36 victory.

Disjointed

Have this Argentina side ever played together before? You wouldn’t have thought it from the way they attacked in this game! To say they looked disjointed is somewhat of an understatement.

Highly experienced scrum half Tomás Cubelli was throwing passes to the knees of his locks and behind his centres, floated wide passes were dropping between players, while the timing was off every time the Pumas tried a soft pop of the ball into the hands of someone coming on to it at pace. Even a couple of promising cross-kicks to space on the left wing early on were wasted as they came with centres hugging the touchline rather than the speedy wings who could have converted these chances into points.

Moroni’s try showed just how dangerous they can be when they get the timing and the passing right—and even that pass from Kremer was right on the border between flat and forward—and such was their dominance for much of the second half, a more accurate performance could have seen the Pumas going into the final round of still in with a chance of winning the Championship.

Beatable Boks

We’ve seen it a number of times since the World Cup: the defending champions are beatable, you just need to play them the right way. And the right way to do so is to take the game to them and challenge them by playing an open attacking game.

By playing a game that focuses on playing tight and getting forward dominance in the set piece, as the British & Irish Lions did on their most recent tour, you are playing into the hands of arguably the most dominant pack in World Rugby; and while the Pumas won a couple of penalties against Frans Malherbe at the scrum in the first half, this allowed the Springboks to take control of the game and move the ball—and Pumas pack—around the pitch at their leisure, keeping the backs poised and fresh for the moments that they were needed, such as Hendrikse’s try.

However, the moment that you start trying to vary your attack, with balls back inside, clever cross-kicks, crash balls and working the ball out wide to create overlaps, the Springboks will find themselves stretched and—as good as they are defensively—even they will not be able to cover every gap. And no offense to Jesse Kriel, but the absence of Lukhanyo Am just makes the Boks even more vulnerable.

That’s not to say that a varied attacking game will win you the game. You still need to try to match the Boks in the set piece and find a way to deal with their physicality, their aerial dominance and increasingly diverse attacking game. But by taking the game to them in attack, you’re giving yourself the best chance to win and giving the fans a spectacle at the same time.

2022 Rugby Championship Round 4: New Zealand v Argentina

2022 Rugby Championship Round 4: New Zealand v Argentina

The 2022 Rugby Championship entered the second half of its competition with the second of Argentina’s matches in New Zealand. The Pumas came into the match topping the table after their first ever win over the All Blacks in New Zealand, but an early handling error from Tomás Lavanini gave the All Blacks immediate possession in the Pumas 22, and a minute of pressure earned them a penalty, which RIchie Mo’unga calmly slotted for an early lead. In wet conditions, the Pumas continued to make errors that gifted New Zealand possession and territory, and when Rieko Ioane recovered a chip into the Pumas 22, the All Blacks quick ball kept them on the front foot and eventually saw Ethan de Groot crash over for the opening try. The All Blacks extended their lead as the first quarter came to an end, Mo’unga sending a grubber in behind the Pumas defence—and taking a big hit from Marcos Kremer in the process—which Will Jordan won the race to, and with the Pumas defence retreating, the ball was spread wide on the next phase to send Caleb Clarke over in the corner, Mo’unga converting for a 17-0 lead. This finally sparked a response from Argentina, whose first attack of real note won a penalty, but they chose to kick to the corner and were soon undone by another handline error as they tried to spread the ball wide. Emiliano Boffelli finally put Argentina on the scoreboard with a penalty after 32 minutes, however a lack of communication recovering the restart led to them giving away a penalty in their own 22, and after the All Blacks’ initial attempt was stopped, Samisoni Taukei’aho crossed for the try—written off for a knock-on in the build-up by Tyrel Lomax—while Lavanini was sent to the bin for not being back 10m at the penalty. And the All Blacks took immediate advantage of the extra man, choosing to take a scrum and getting the push on, before giving to the backs to send Rieko Ioane over beneath the post, Mo’unga kicking the conversion for a 24-3 halftime lead.

The Pumas made a change at half time, with Benjamín Urdapilleta replacing Santiago Carreras—who had taken a knock to the thigh courtesy of an unpenalised late hit from Sam Cane—and he immediately had the Pumas on the attack, until a strip from Sam Whitelock on Thomas Gallo saw the All Blacks win the ball back and kick downfield, with a great chase putting the Pumas under heavy pressure, resulting in possession once again deep in the Argentina half and, soon after, another penalty for Mo’unga. As both teams went to their benches, George Bower found himself turned over by Matera n the Pumas try line, and this sparked a period of attacking intensity from the Pumas which saw Fletcher Newell binned for collapsing a driving maul and as the penalties continued to come their way, Lavanini’s stretch for the line saw the ball dislodged by Mo’unga, while another handling error ended their next attack in the 22. Winning a penalty advantage off the resulting scrum, the All Blacks chose to try and play with ball in hand, and Will Jordan released Rieko Ioane to break away, and a few phases of pressure saw Sam Cane put through to draw the last defender and feed Jordie Barrett for the try. That try killed off any remaining hopes of an Argentina comeback, and New Zealand’s next foray into Pumas territory also saw them score, Ardie Savea dotting down with 12 minutes left to make it 2 tries scored while Newell was in the bin, while Brodie Retallick marked his return from injury with a try with 6 minutes remaining and Beauden Barrett crossed after the final hooter, with brother Jordie converting for a 50-3 victory that will likely see many with short memories say that Ian Foster is the man to lead the All Blacks again.

In behind

Last week I talked about how the All Blacks just mindlessly ran into the heart of the Pumas defence phase after phase. Well it looks like Ian Foster has done his homework and created a gameplan to attack the Pumas (a week late), as they have done much better this week. And it all comes down to one thing: kicks in behind the defence.

The Argentina defence is made up of a group of absolute units getting in your face and hitting you hard, but once you get in behind them, they are vulnerable as they are forced to chase back, and often start giving away high numbers of penalties. This week, the All Blacks were finding a way to get in behind the defensive line, by having Richie Mo’unga and David Havili play clever shallow kicks in behind the front line.

It was a clear planned tactic as Will Jordan was always aware and ready to chase for it, while the kicks all notably came when playing to the All Blacks’ right wing, away from aerial master Emiliano Boffelli. Worst case scenario, these chips and grubbers were forcing the Pumas to have the ball deep in their own half, but what was often happening in the game was that Jordan was beating the defence on the turn, and in that moment the All Blacks attack would press their advantage to score a few phases later.

Now if only Ian Foster can start figuring out how to beat a team in 1 week rather than 2 or 3, the All Blacks may be able to put together a run of wins.

Kicking themselves

While New Zealand got their tactics right this week, the Pumas didn’t. Much like in the first round against Australia, Argentina focused too much on attacking with the ball in hand, which worked against them as a combination of wet conditions and a solid All Blacks defence saw them continually making handling errors that killed off their match.

What they should have been doing was playing the kicking game that they did in round 2, putting the ball up and letting players like Carreras, Boffelli, Cordero and Mallia put pressure on the All Blacks in the air. Granted the All Blacks are better set to deal with this than the Wallabies (courtesy of both Jordie Barrett and Will Jordan being experienced fullbacks), but with conditions making the ball slippery, it would have still been a much more effective tactic, while also forcing the All Blacks to play from deep.

It’s noticeable that the high ball game did feature a little more after the break, and it did cause some problems for the All Blacks, but the game was already all-but over as a competition by that point and needed a more attacking gameplan from the Pumas, which then worked into New Zealand hands as the handling errors continued.

2022 Rugby Championship Round 2: Argentina v Australia

2022 Rugby Championship Round 2: Argentina v Australia

Round 2’s repeat of last week’s matches continued in San Juan with Argentina hosting Australia. An ill-disciplined second half from the Pumas had cost them last week, but they started quickest this week, getting the ball wide, and when Tom Wright fumbled Juan Imhoff’s grubber under pressure, the Pumas wing collected the ball and ran in for the opening try after just 61 seconds, Emiliano Boffelli adding the extras. The great start continued as heavy pressure in defence forced a scrum, from which Santiago Carreras kicked a 50/22 up to the Wallabies 5m line, and after a series of phases, Thomas Gallo fought his way over for a try under the posts, leaving a simple conversion for Boffelli to make it 14-0 in 7 minutes before the Wallabies—who had been forced into a number of changes from last week due to injuries—could even fire a shot. A timely jackal from Fraser McReight brought the next Pumas attack to an end and allowed the Wallabies to kick to the corner, and after Rob Valentini was sent charging into the defence off the top of the lineout, James Slipper was following up and carried over for a crucial try, converted by James O’Connor. Slipper and Valentini were combining again to put the Wallabies on the front foot again just minutes later, and after a series of phases in the 22, the Wallabies earned a penalty for offsides that allowed O’Connor to cut the lead to 4 points. The Aussies had all he momentum and were finding gaps too often, and when Jordan Petaia was put through a gap in the 22 by O’Connor he drew the last man and fed the ball back to O’Connor for what appeared to be a try, until Karl Dickson found an offence from James Slipper at the breakdown just before. That decision proved crucial, as Carreras kicked for touch, and when Taniela Tupou offended at that lineout, they kicked into the Wallabies 22 and worked a gap for Jerónimo de la Fuente to scythe through and score, though it came at the expense of a leg injury for the Pumas centre. The Wallabies were straight back on the attack through Len Ikitau and Lalakai Foketi and made it right up to the try-line, only for Nic White to be adjudged as having not come through the game to clean out. The next try came out of nowhere on the half hour, as the Wallabies failed to deal with a simple kick forward under minimal pressure—White choosing to play a blocking role when Petaia held off expecting him to take the catch—which led to the ball bouncing and O’Connor, who was ruching across to cover, juggling the ball straight into the hands of Juan Martín González, who gratefully took the ball 40m unchallenged to score for the 2ⁿᵈ consecutive week. And with 5 minutes left of the half, Boffelli was the next to take advantage of Australian struggles under the high ball, as he broke away and just managed to ride Marika Koroibete’s tackle to ground the ball, though officials were clearly not watching the replays as they were unable to see the compelling evidence that the ball had been grounded. As an inept performance from karl Dickson and his officials continued, Marcos Kremer was wrongly adjudged to have not used his arms in a low tackle a minute before the break, and the Wallabies kicked down into the corner, only to be turned over at the lineout, ending the half with the score at 26-10.

It was the Wallabies who created the first chance after the break, with Valetini again being released off the back of a lineout, and though he was stopped just short of the line, he offloaded to Petaia, whose momentum carried him through a tackle by Gonzalo Bertranou, who managed to strip the ball before it could be grounded. The second half began settling into a rhythm of the Pumas defence holding out (sometimes under heavy pressure close to their line) and eventually clearing their lines, but one good kick chase caught Tom Wright in 2 minds and he was snagged and caught holding on to the ball by Imhoff, allowing Boffelli to kick the first points of the half. As the clock ticked past the hour, a monster maul by the Pumas brought them into the 22, and as they went through the phases, Gallo eventually forced himself over for his second try, though he appeared to be stopped short and then go again. The Wallabies were 26 points down with 15 minutes left, but quickly hit back through a try from Len Ikitau. to give them a little hope, however this hope was all-but ended just moments later as Tate McDermott’s 50/22 took them deep into the Pumas redzone, only for them to give away a penalty at the breakdown. And when Argentina turned the ball over with just minutes left, Boffelli chased down Carreras’ grubber to go over, and with the clock in the red, replacement halves Tomás Cubelli and Tomás Albornoz combined off a scrum for one last try, which Boffelli converted for a 48-17 victory that leaves the Pumas top of the table after 2 rounds.

Kicking on

Last week I suggested that the Pumas had got their tactics wrong by not getting their back 3 involved in attack. While it seems that Michael Cheika agreed as it was the complete opposite this week.

In attack, the big carriers in the pack and centres were still involved, but there was a lot more quick spreading of the ball to the wings, who were certainly enjoying their chance to run at the opposition.

But more important was the kicking. This week, they were frequently kicking to compete, with Bertranou and Carreras putting up high balls that were just the right length for their back 3 to attack. Boffelli especially was having success outjumping his man. But even the slightly longer kicks were causing the Wallabies problems, as they started having issues getting organised in time to make the catch.

This is clearly a team building and improving as Michael Cheika gets more time with them. If they can continue building like this, they will be a real threat come the World Cup once again.

Problem position?

While it must be noted that Australia are currently playing with a number of players out injured, they are notably struggling at fullback. While there had been talk of Jordan Petaia learning the position, Test rugby came around before he had time to sufficiently do so, so with him being used on the wing, it is Tom Wright who has been pulling on the 15 shirt of late. And it is costing the Wallabies.

Though he may have played the position previously in rugby league, the 13-man code uses its fullbacks differently, and it is notable how often he looked like a winger covering the position, being much more willing to try running kicks back than to get into a territory game, while also not looking fully comfortable covering Argentina’s much more varied kicking game in this match.

The odd thing is that Reece Hodge, who has plenty of experience at 15, was available on the bench. While I imagine that Hodge is being held back due to his versatility covering so many positions off the bench, and Petaia, Koroibete and Wright all above Hodge in the pecking order should everyone be played in their ideal positions, rugby is not about simply getting your best 15 players on the pitch, but getting the players who fit the position, and I think that if they want success against South Africa and New Zealand in their remaining matches, they need to play someone used to the position.

2022 Rugby Championship Round 1: Argentina v Australia

2022 Rugby Championship Round 1: Argentina v Australia

Australia kicked off their 2022 Rugby Championship campaign with a trip to Mendoza to face off against Argentina. Now coached by former Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika, the Pumas came into the tournament off the back of a last gasp 2-1 series victory over Scotland, and they were soon ahead here as Santiago Carreras’ inside pass sent Pablo Matera over from close range. Australia were missing 2 of their stars in Michael Hooper—who had returned to Australia after not feeling in the right mindset to play—and the injured Samu Kerevi, but they welcomed back Quade Cooper, who soon got them on the scoresheet with a penalty. Emiliano Boffelli kicked 2 penalties of his own, but Australia chose to go to the corner with their next penalty, and after drawing in the defense with the initial maul, they spread the ball to create a gap for the looping Jordan Petaia to arc through, Cooper kicking the conversion. Boffelli soon added another 3 points, but Australia were growing into the game and looking dangerous, with their next attack taking them right to the Pumas’ try line, only for Cooper’s offload to hit the unsuspecting James Slipper in the face and fall into Argentina hands, allowing them to clear their lines. Though both teams tried, neither could create another chance of note before the break, though Boffelli ended the half by kicking a 4ᵗʰ penalty for a 19-10 lead.

It was the Australians who made the first attack of note after the break, Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia breaking down the right wing following an Argentine clearance, Wright ran out of space but his offload inside found debutant Jed Holloway, who was stopped just short and turned over. The Wallabies were soon back up to the line, but after failing to score in the initial phases, Quade Cooper tried to make something of a penalty advantage and ended up injuring his ankle, with Reece Hodge replacing him. Hodge’s first act was to kick to the corner with their penalty and the pack successfully mauled Fraser McReight—a late call-up to the 7 shirt following Hooper’s withdrawal—over for a try, which Hodge converted to cut the deficit to 2 points. The Pumas should have stretched the lead with a try of their own just minutes later, as Marcos Kremer was released by a inside pass, but his pass in the 22 was knocked on by the onrushing Carreras. Their next attack was much more successful though; countering a kick and spreading the ball to Matera, who carried with determination before feeding his fellow back row Juan Martín González to score in the corner, Boffelli nailing the kick from the touchline. That kick proved crucial, as a scrum penalty allowed the Wallabies to kick to the corner again, and while they couldn’t get over the line, it was adjudged that Matías Alemanno had illegally collapsed the maul, resulting in a yellow card for the lock and a penalty try for the visitors, who took the lead through a Hodge penalty just minutes later. The Argentine discipline of the first half was all-but gone and it was allowing the Wallabies to dominate, with their next kick to the corner seeing Folau Fainga’a peel off the maul and fight his way over. Back to 15 men, Argentina earned a much-needed penalty on halfway with 5 minutes left, only for Boffelli to push it too far to the right, and a last-gasp attack to earn a bonus point saw the ball go to floor and get turned over, Jake Gordon collected and his forward pass (clear to all on the replay but allowed to stand) allowed Hunter Paisami to draw the last defender and send Len Ikitau over for a final try, which Hodge converted for a 26-41 victory that will leave them top of the table after Round 1.

Too tight

Back in the days when Argentina were establishing themselves as worthy of a spot in the Rugby Championship, they were known for their dominant pack. These days, they are probably more noticeable from the incredible talent they are producing in the back 3, so much so that Santiago Carreras can be moved to fly half and there are still more legitimate options for those positions than can fit in the squad.

However, far too often when watching the Pumas so far under Michael Cheika, the back 3 has been seriously underused in attack. This is a unit that contains genuine game-changers like Santiago Cordero and Bautista Delguy, and yet they are not being given the chance to get the ball in any space to attack the defence like we know they can, being limited to just kick counters. Even Boffelli on the wing was wasted in this game, with no attempts to put the ball high in the air for Boffelli (one of the best in the world at competing for the high ball) to go up for.

Granted the Pumas have some fantastic carriers in the back row, who they managed to release quite a few times with some clever inside passes, however when things looked to go wide, players continually got in each other’s way. Is this a matter of Carreras not being able to control his back line effectively? Or are the coaches struggling to impose a more expansive attacking plan in these early days?

Blunted attack

Obviously any team is going to be hurt by the loss of Samu Kerevi, but I think this match shows just how important he is for the team.

With their star centre missing, Hunter Paisami shifted inside to 12 with Len Ikitau coming in at 13. Now Paisami is a quality centre, but is still at the earlier stage of his career where he is seen as a solid defender and a crash ball in attack, he has not yet developed that passing and kicking game that we see the best  crash ball 12s (think Kerevi and Ma’a Nonu) develop, while Ikitau is still finding himself at international level as he finds himself in and out of the 23 depending on who is available.

And so without Kerevi, the midfield looked rather blunt, just carrying into a Pumas defence that was happy to tackle and jackal all day long. It’s notable that of Australia’s 5 tries, 3 were from driving mauls, 1 was a counterattack after a turnover and the only one that involved the back line running any real shape was first phase off a lineout in the Pumas 22, a situation where any team should be able to do something creative.

Kerevi and Paisami appear to have secured the top 2 centre spots. But when Kerevi is unavailable, is Ikitau the answer, or do they need to look at a more creative option?

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Argentina v Scotland: Team of the Series

Argentina v Scotland: Team of the Series

We are one week on from the end of Scotland’s summer tour to South America. A series that saw a strong Scotland A team take on Chile as the South Americans prepared for their 2-leg playoff with the USA—which they won to secure the Americas 2 spot at RWC2023—before the first choice team (minus a few regulars) faced Argentina in a 3-Test series, which saw a last-gasp try from Emiliano Boffelli secure a 2-1 series win for the Pumas to kick off Michael Cheika’s tenure as head coach.

And so, as we spend this period after the Summer Tours patiently waiting for the beginning of the Rugby Championship, it’s time to look back over the tour to create my combined XV. Unfortunately, I was unable to see the match between Scotland A and Chile, so this will focus purely on the Test series with Argentina,

Who do you think should have made the XV? Let me know in the comments below.



My combined XV from Scotland’s 3-Test series against Argentina is:

1) Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro: Was hard to separate anyone out from the pack here, but what really stuck in my mind was the way that Tetaz Chaparro followed up 2 starts with a strong performance off the bench to help pull the Pumas back into the final Test and flip the momentum in their favour.

2) Ewan Ashman: A solid but not spectacular series for Julián Montoya, who missed the decider, while Scotland rotated their hookers with each getting a start and an appearance off the bench. As such, the most notable performance was that of Ewan Ashman, who put in a solid all-round performance—including 2 tries, one of which highlighted his threat in the loose—to put Scotland in a position where they should have held on to win the final Test.

3) Zander Fagerson: I wonder if Fagerson actually gets the recognition he deserves on the international stage. Was solid in the scrums through the series and showed his quality with ball in hand during the fina Test.

4 & 5) Guido Petti & Grant Gilchrist: Petti played a crucial role in the set piece, with a number of crucial steals at the lineout. Meanwhile, Gilchrist did a solid job in the second row, while also took on the responsibility of captaining the team with a number of Scotland’s most experienced players given the summer off.

6) Rory Darge: Made an immediate impression on his debut Six Nations and carried on where he left off in Argentina. Darge is a turnover machine, and it will be very hard to drop him from the XV, which is crazy to think considering how locked in the pairing of Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Waston has been.

7) Hamish Watson: Celebrated reaching his half-century of caps out in Argentina and will surely go on to earn many more. missed the opening Test, but came back with 2 solid performances. You always know what you’ll get from him: a tireless engine, reliable tackling, crucial turnovers and hard carrying.

8) Matt Fagerson: Appears to have secured the number 8 spot in the Scotland squad in recent matches and is certainly becoming more influential in the team. Carried well throughout the series to help put the Scots on the front foot.

9) Gonzalo Bertranou: Wasn’t even intended to be in the wider squad this summer but ended up starting the first few Tests and coming off the bench in the finale. Played well in the first 2 Tests and helped spark a comeback in the decider. Took his opportunities well to score 2 tries.

10) Santiago Carreras: Maybe I have some bias here as a Gloucester fan, but in a Test series where both of the main 10s were transitioning to the position from 15, Carreras was more consistent that Blair Kinghorn, though he didn’t have to worry about goal kicking. Ran the game well and took his moments to score 2 beautiful tries. Regardless, I still feel that he is better at 15 than 10.

11) Duhan van der Merwe: Was quiet in the first Test, but when Scotland actually started paying more rugby he became a real threat. Carried well and was fully deserving of his try early in the decider.

12) Sam Johnson: Like many Scottish players, he was wasted in the opening Test as they kicked too much ball away, but came into his own as Scotland started playing more attacking rugby. Scored off a lovely crash ball line in the second game.

13) Mark Bennett: One of Scotland’s best players in the series, it was great to see him back paying consistently and he was on top attacking form. Scored 2 very different, but equally impressive tries, beating his man on an outside arc in the first Test and taking a much more direct line from deep in the second.

14) Bautista Delguy: Had limited minutes as Michael Cheika looked at his options, but managed to get more involved than many of his fellow wingers. Made a number of breaks and half-breaks while continually keeping the Scottish defence guessing.

15) Juan Cruz Mallia: Missed the second Test but looked dangerous in both other matches. Found space to start a number of attacks returning kicks.

Argentina v Scotland: The 2022 Decider

Argentina v Scotland: The 2022 Decider

Scotland’s South American tour came to an end with a deciding third Test between them and Argentina. With the series on the line, both coaches decided to make a number of changes, and it was Argentina who ha the first chance as they spread the ball off the first phase from a lineout, only for the crucial final pass to go through over Emiliano Boffelli’s head and through his hands and into touch. The Pumas wing soon opened the scoring though with a penalty from just inside his own half after Ali Price failed to get back onside at the breakdown. Both teams were looking to play attacking rugby early on, and when Blair Kinghorn got his arms through a tackle, he was able to release Duhan van der Merwe to burst trough the 22 for the opening try. The Pumas took the lead back as the quarter came to an end though, Bautista Delguy collecting a loose ball and making good ground, before Juan Cruz Mallia and Boffelli combined to release Santiago Carreras to run 40 metres untouched. Scotland’s next attack saw them earn a penalty which, they kicked to touch and mauled over, with hooker Ewan Ashman the man with ball in hand, with Kinghorn adding the touchline conversion to open up a 4-point lead. Another Boffelli penalty attempt from inside his own half lacked the accuracy of the first, but he made amends from closer range just a few minutes later but a failure to secure the restart put the Pumas back under immediate pressure, but a timely lineout steal from Guido Petti allowed the home team to clear their lines, and though there was just time for one more Scottish penalty, Blair Kinghorn’s effort from 46 metres came back off the crossbar and the teams went into the break with the Scots leading 13-14.

An error for the Pumas in their exit plan off the restart saw the Scots with immediate possession in the 22, and after going through a number of phases, Ashman found himself getting the ball out wide and slipped through a weak tackle from Delguy to cross in the corner, while van der Merwe crossed from close range just minutes later after a break from Mark Bennett. The Pumas were in need of a response and it came almost straight away as replacement prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro forced himself over from close range. As the game passed the our mark, Kinghorn added a penalty from close range, but the Pumas hit straight back with a try through replacement scrum half Gonzalo Bertranou, with Boffelli’s conversion narrowing the gap to 4 points. Not for the first time in the game, the home side failed to deal with the restart, and the Scots took advantage to win a penalty and kick to the corner, but the Scottish maul got its push on too early and they failed to get the ball to the back, resulting in Jonny Gray being held up over the line. As the game entered the final 5 minutes, the Pumas were pressuring the Scottish line and with the final play of the game, Carreras found Boffelli on the wing to go over for the game-winning—and series-winning—try, before kicking the conversion for a 34-31 victory.

Their own worst enemy

It’s amazing how often you see it in rugby: the team that has just scored either fail to secure te restart as it is kicked to them, or make some error/give away a dumb penalty in their attempt to implement their exit strategy.

This was the case for the Pumas today. In the first half, it was somewhat understandable. The Scots were repeatedly aiming their kickoffs to the one area of the pitch that was still bathed in sunlight, and with Blair Kinghorn able to get an incredible hangtime on his kicks, it allowed the Scots to get up and pressure the Pumas as they tried to catch the ball whilst also dealing with the sun blinding them—a recipe for disaster.

However even more worrying were 2 of the incidents in the first half. The first one being off the kickoff to the half, as the Pumas tried to carry a couple of times before clearing, only to find themselves held up in a maul and turned over—which gifted the Scots a try—and the second when Carreras took the restart and after a moment of hesitation tried to clear himself, only have the kick charged down by Pierre Schoeman.

To me, this came down to a lack of experience in the halves. Scrum half Lautaro Bazán Vélez was making his Test debut, and while Carreras may now have 20+ caps to his name, he is still getting used to playing at fly half and does not play the position at club level. As such, you’re asking a lot for the pair to control the game under pressure, and its notable that things improved with Bertranou coming on at 9. Maybe Carreras is the future for the Pumas at 10, but for me right now he is still at his best at 15, and Nicolás Sánchez should be wearing the 10 jersey in the big games next year in France.

Lucky at number 13

Mark Bennett has been one of the biggest bright sparks of this tour. The centre has always been a quality player and dangerous attacker, but injuries had severely hampered his international career, so much so that the first Test of this series was his first Test start in 6 years.

But he has certainly taken his chances, being consistently one of the brighter sparks for Scotland in attack, making a number of breaks and scoring a couple of tries as well. With performances like this, it would be very hard to drop him for the next Test.

And therein lies the issue, as the number 13 shirt has been well and truly secured in recent years by Chris Harris. A player who always feels like he has put in an 8/10 performance at worst, Harris is the lynchpin of the Scottish defence, one of the best 13s in the world and a leader in the team, while it’s also notable that he was one of the few backs getting regular minutes in the Six Nations who were not involved in that breach of protocol. And well defence may be his specialty, his attacking play has also improved during his years at Gloucester.

With Harris given the summer off, Gregor Townsend will have a big decision the next time he names a team. Does he stick with Mark Bennett, or return to Harris? Or is there some way that he can get both into the team without taking away from what they do best…?

Argentina v Scotland

Argentina v Scotland

Scotland’s South American adventure continued this week with a trip to Salta to face Argentina in the second Test of the tour. Scotland had a chance to make it a clean sweep on the day for the Home Nations if they could get the win here, but after Blair Kinghorn and Emiliano Boffelli traded early penalties, it was the Pumas who had the first chance of note as fly half Santiago Carreras accelerated through a gap, but as the Pumas looked to continue the break, Jerónimo de la Fuente was not quite able to ship the ball off first time to Santiago Cordero, who would have had an easy run into the corner. Scotland were having the greater share of possession and territory with little to show for it, until Darcy Graham managed to win a high ball from Ben White and spark an attack, which ended in several tacklers just bundling Duhan van der Merwe over the touchline 5 metres from the line. As the game reached the half hour mark, a spell of concerted pressure from Argentina allowed Boffelli to put them ahead with another penalty, but the Scots were straight back on the attack and after kicking a penalty to the corner, Hamish Watson managed to go over for the opening try of the match on the occasion of his 50ᵗʰ cap, and though Kinghorn missed the conversion, they found themselves going in at the break with a 6-8 lead.

The third quarter proved crucial for Scotland’s most successful spell of the game last week and it started in similar fashion this week, with the forwards putting in some great carries that allowed Mark Bennett to hit a gap from depth at pace to scythe over for try number 2 just minutes after the restart. The Pumas were soon on the attack themselves through, and when Juan Imhoff broke down the left wing, the ball was then spread out to the right for lock Guido Petti to score, though it was ruled out after a TMO review found that there had been a forward pass to help set up the break. With 30 minutes remaining, ROss Thompson was brought on for the injured Kyle Row (taking over at 10, with Kinghorn moving to 15), and the Scots were immediately pressuring the Pumas’ try line, resulting in Emiliano Boffelli being sent to the bin as the defenders gave away too many penalties, and Scotland quickly took advantage of the extra man to crash Matt Fagerson over for the try, Thompson taking over the kicking duties and nailing the simple conversion. Argentina thought that they had a much-needed try just before the hour as Carreras squeezed through a number of defenders, but Rory Darge just managed to force the ball loose as he crossed the line, though the Pumas could be rightfully unhappy with the pathetically short penalty advantage given in the opposition 22 by Mathieu Raynal. The Scots were able to clear their line, and a couple of penalties saw them move down the field to the Argentina line, where Sam Johnson crashed over to all-but guarantee the win with 15 minutes remaining. The Pumas looked to hit back immediately, but the sniping Gonzalo Bertranou was held up over the line. With the victory beyond them, Boffelli went over with 5 minutes remaining, but saw the ball stripped away by Mark Bennett as he went to ground, and Matías Orlando knocked on as he tried to react at the last moment, and the Scots saw out the final moments to secure a 6-29 victory.

Heart, now head

Michael Cheika has the Pumas playing with heart again, which in itself is a huge improvement from the malaise at the end of Ledesma’s reign. Now he desperately needs to bring some accuracy to their play.

In attack, they have such quality out wide, but rarely manage to get the ball to them in any space, but the real worry is in defence, where they are just giving away far too many penalties. Marcos Kremer appears to have cut out the stupid hits, but the team as a whole is still gifting their opposition with too much simple possession and territory by not staying onside and by not being accurate enough at the breakdown.

The Pumas are in an interesting position. They have a team with plenty of quality and potential, and it doesn’t feel like they are far off unlocking that, which will see them start to score more. But o win, they also need to keep the opposition score down, and to do so they need to be more accurate and perhaps even a little more conservative, taking a extra half a step back to ensure they don’t jump offside. If they continue like this, it will be a long Rugby Championship campaign but a few small but crucial improvements could see them being really competitive.

Building

This was a much better attacking performance from Scotland. They varied the attack by playing both through the forwards, with width and also with van der Merwe coming inside. The forwards carried with conviction and both centres made certain that they were not being stopped by defenders by picking their lines from depth and hitting the ball at pace. After the disappointment of last week, this was a sorely needed performance that needs to become the base level expected.

There will still be questions though. Is Blair Kinghorn the answer at 10? I haven’t seen enough from him to suggest so, and would suggest that Ross Thompson be given the starting spot next week. Will this be enough to push for the RWC2023 semifinals? I don’t think that even the return of their missing stars will be enough for that.

With the World Cup just over a year away, it feels like the only step forward the Scots have taken over the last 2 games is the form of Mark Bennett. As great as that is, this is nowhere near enough.

Argentina v Scotland

Argentina v Scotland

Fresh off a comprehensive win for a strong Scottish “A” side over Chile, i was time for a stronger test for the Scots as they faced Argentina. The Pumas were playing their first home game since August 2019, and it took just 4 minutes for them to open the scoring via a Nicolás Sánchez penalty. After a couple of poor years under Mario Ledesma, a big performance for Argentina in their first match under Michael Cheika was a must, and they were certainly the dominant team early on, but the Scots held firm and their fist extended spell of possession ended with a Blair Kinghorn penalty to level the scores after 15 minutes. Sánchez soon put the Pumas back ahead with another penalty, but his match was ended early with an injury after 20 minutes and he was replaced by Santiago Carreras. The fly half’s loss was soon felt as Emiliano Boffelli missed his first kick at goal, while Kinghorn was more accurate with his own attempt moments later. However the Pumas were looking dangerous with ball in hand and as they stretched the Scottish defence missing its lynchpin Chris Harris (one of a number of key players given the summer off), Jerónimo de la Fuente managed to force his way over for the first try after 30 minutes. And just minutes later, a break from Juan Cruz Mallia saw Santiago Cordero brought down just short of the line, but Carreras was there in support to dive over in the corner. Matías Orlando nearly made it 3 just moments later as a Scottish attack broke down and the ball went to ground before being hacked on by the transitioning Pumas, but Duhan van der Merwe just got back to kick the ball dead, with Matt Fagerson winning a crucial turnover penalty as Argentina attacked off the resulting scrum, with the half ending 18-6.

The Scots may have been without some big names after choosing to rest Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris, but they got the first chance of the second half with a 5m lineout, and though Petti got up to steal the ball, it was not taken cleanly off the top and Duhan van der Merwe just failed to cleanly ground the ball as he and Carreras both dived for the loose ball. But they kept the pressure on and Mark Bennett managed to beat Cordero to the outside to go over in the corner for a crucial try in his first Test start for 6 years. The Scottish dominance continued, aided by Argentinian indiscipline, and the Scots were soon over for another try, Kinghorn arcing a run to the corner flag and playing a switch to Rory Hutchinson, who crashed over the line, with Kinghorn kicking the extras to level the scores. This seemed to spark the Pumas into life, and after Boffelli won the restart and Orlando got the ball up to the try line, Gonzalo Bertranou—originally intended to spend the summer with the development squad in Europe, then later called into the senior squad and intended to be on the bench until a late injury to Tomás Cubelli promoted him to the starting spot—sniped over for an immediate response. As the game entered the final quarter, Sam Johnson thought that he had scored out wide, only for Nic Berry to adjudge Kinghorn’s fizzed pass to him to have gone forward. With 10 minutes remaining, Boffelli kicked a penalty to make it a 2-score game and the defence held firm as the clock ticked down to secure a 26-18 victory.

Belief is back

It’s always amazing just how quickly a side can turn around. In the final days of Mario Ledesma, this was a side that didn’t look like they wanted to be playing. They were aimless and lacking discipline. Now they look like they first did under him: attacking through their exciting back line and bringing in the forwards to keep that expansive play. Oh and Marcos Kremer didn’t do anything stupid.

While a change in coach has probably helped freshen things up, I also wouldn’t be surprised if part of it is something as simple as getting to play in front of a home crowd. The home fans will never be accused of not being passionate, and that level of support is always going to help propel a team on. But more than that, to play away from loved ones for so long in continuous COVID bubbles would sap the will of any human.

They still have some work to do on things like defence and discipline, and they desperately need to find a more reliable goal kicker than Boffelli for when Sánchez is off the pitch, but after a couple of disappointing seasons, this is a timely and necessary improvement.

Kicking themselves

I can’t help feel that Scotland got their tactics very wrong in this game. In and around the Argentina 22, they clearly showed that they were dangerous in attack and able to break the Pumas defence down. However, they did not seem to want to play attacking rugby between the halfway line and the Pumas 22, choosing instead to just kick away all possession.

Admittedly not all kicking is bad kicking, but in this case, I think it was, as they relied on the altitude to kick long and enter a territory game with the Pumas (which saw them kicked back into their own redzone), rather than putting up contestable box kicks and bombs. These attacking kicks would have put a lot more pressure on a Pumas back 3 who had an easy day, and would have also put more uncertainty into the defensive line as to what Scotland were going to do, which would have then allowed them to bring players like the anonymous van der Merwe into the game much more.

As much as Argentina looked better than recent Tests windows, they still looked very beatable, despite the quality of players missing for the Scots. Scotland just need to play much smarter rugby next week.