Scotland 41 Argentina 31: Three talking points

Three talking points as Scotland win an eight-try thriller to start the viagogo Autumn Tests with a bang

By Jason O Callaghan at BT Murrayfield Stadium

Laidlaw so good, he had to play twice

Despite a momentary lapse in concentration at the very start of the game which allowed Javier Ortega Desio to score a try, followed by a successful conversion from the boot of Nicolas Sanchez, Scotland and their captain Greig Laidlaw kept their composure and refused to let panic set-in. Captain Laidlaw had talked about the pride in playing for your country during the week and how he wanted to set a winning standard for his team and lead by example. That is exactly what the former Edinburgh Rugby captain did throughout the entire game. Following two successful conversions from the both the Gray brothers’ tries, Laidlaw was exceptional in the build-up to Sean Maitland’s try. The scrum-half breezing past the Argentina defenders with strength and grace as he passed the perfect ball to Maitland who was open on the right wing. Laidlaw then coolly converted for his side. It was Stuart Hogg, Maitland’s Glasgow Warriors team-mate, who benefited from another bursting run from the captain as Laidlaw fed the ball to Hogg to cross the Argentina line early in the second half. In a game in which Laidlaw secured his 275th point for Scotland, he successfully converted four times and tipped over two penalties with his ever-reliable boot. Laidlaw and his former team-mate at Edinburgh, Ross Ford, both came off to heroes’ receptions just after the hour mark, but when a concussive episode befell Henry Pyrgos, Laidlaw returned to the field to see out the game late on. So just as stadium announcer Grant Stott was announcing his return, he then had to announce the man of the match: Greig Laidlaw.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

It was the story that dominated all the sports headlines in Scotland throughout the week and the Gray brothers have made sure the rugby world will continue to talk about them and the new chapter they have written in their story. Possessing terrific skills and ball-carrying abilities on the pitch, the giant Grays carry themselves with great confidence and politeness off it. Despite being brothers and professional rugby players of only five years apart, despite both their international caps and being bloody good professional rugby players, Richie and Jonny, with their contrasting blond hair colours, had never played together on the same rugby pitch. All that changed this weekend with both brothers starting in Vern Cotter’s XV. Argentina had threatened to spoil the party and add to their impressive form of late on the back of their 21-17 victory over Australia in the summer. All that changed however when peroxide-sporting Richie scored a try to get Scotland straight back in the game. The game was tied at 7-7 with barley seven minutes on the clock. Not wanting to be outshone by his older brother, Jonny scored his first international try in the 22nd minute. It took Richie 40 caps to get his second try, Jonny has one in seven games. Richie admitted during the week that his brother is possibly the better player, something widely accepted in rugby circles in Scotland and beyond. Locks are rarely prolific in try-scoring terms, but expect Jonny to outscore his older sibling in time.

Indiscipline will cost your team

On a wet and windy late afternoon in the Scottish capital, a crowd of just 36,764 braved the weather and were rewarded for their efforts as Scotland put in a terrific, albeit rare, performance of running rugby more likely to be seen at Scotstoun Stadium along the M8 than the home of Edinburgh Rugby. The 41-31 score line in Scotland represented the highest scoring contest of the weekend. However, it did have three yellow cards, as English referee Wayne Barnes sent two Scots and an Argentine to the bin, and at times threatened to do the same with the respective front rows. Flanker Rob Harley was sent to the bin for an infringement at the lineout, while big lock Jim Hamilton was barely on the pitch as a second half replacement before he was off again, getting caught on the wrong side. While Harley was off, Argentina scored their penalty try, and Tomas Cubelli also secured a try for the Pumas when Hamilton ended the match on the sidelines. Quite remarkably, it was Argentina that suffered the most. Winger Juan Imhoff was sin binned after 20 minutes for a shoulder block as Scotland raced down their left wing. While Argentina’s No 14 was off, Scotland blitzed the Pumas, twice exploiting the gaping hole in the Argentine defence to score two quick tries and clocking up 14 points in less than 10 minutes. It appeared Argentina never really recovered from that spell and Scotland eventually secured their first victory over Argentina in Scotland since 1990. As referee Barnes was heard to say through his ref mic, “tackle him, don’t block him”. Never a truer word spoken, Mr Barnes!

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