Scotland and Argentina will be desperate to bounce back from disappointing results when they meet for the second time this year. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Scottish have had somewhat of a mixed bag of performances this November, with a solid win against Fiji coupled with losses to Wales and the Springboks.
Gregor Townsend has decided to change things around a bit with his selections, bringing in loosehead Allan Dell to shore up their scrums, while Josh Strauss can be expected to put in a typically fiery performance at No 8. The most highlighted change, however, has been the decision to shift regular flyhalf Finn Russell to inside centre, with Adam Hastings starting to create a double-playmaker role in the backline.
With Russell and Huw Jones in the midfield, it seems that Townsend has a feeling the Argentinian defence is there to be breached. Since their last meeting in August, Argentina have averaged 31 missed tackles per game, a worrying statistic that was again on show in Lille, where the visitors struggled to contain Gaël Fickou and Mathieu Bastareaud.
After a promising start to life under Mario Ledesma, the Argentinians have been disappointing on tour. The loss to France means that Los Pumas have only recorded one win in their last six Tests, and just two since the former Wallabies assistant took over.
The squad has recently been rocked with the news that flank Marcos Kremer’s partner has passed away, which could make emotions high at Murrayfield.
As has been mentioned, Ledesma has his hands full trying to sort out Argentina’s scrumming problems. While they were not flat-out dominated by the French, Argentina remain a long way away from the days of the feared Bajada technique. Scotland themselves have also gone away from what used to be a traditional strength, but the South African-born duo of Dell and WP Nel could be rubbing their hands with glee come Saturday.
The hosts will still be wary of what Argentina can offer. With Ledesma in charge they have looked a dangerous side when given space and momentum, and boast a deadly back three in Emiliano Boffelli, Ramiro Moyano and Bautista Delguy. The 21-year-old Delguy, in particular, has been in sparkling form, scoring five tries in the 10 Tests he has started this year.
Scotland have won their last two Tests against Argentina at Murrayfield and also comfortably beat them in Argentina in June, when the home side was going through one of its toughest periods under former coach Daniel Hourcade.
Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Finn Russell, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell.
Subs: 16 Stuart McInally 17 Alex Allan, 18 WP Nel, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 George Horne, 22 Alex Dunbar, 23 Byron McGuigan.
Argentina – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Rodrigo Bruni, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Augustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Matias Orlando, 23 Sebastián Cancelliere.
Photo: Pablo Gasparini/AFP/Getty Images