Pumas given chance to redeem against Scots at Murrayfield
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Coach Daniel Hourcade gave Argentina a chance to redeem itself against Scotland after a sub-par effort against Wales.
The same Pumas XV which was beaten by Wales 24-20 in Cardiff last weekend was chosen to face the Scots on Saturday at Murrayfield. Into the reserves came 74-cap utility forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon, and back Juan Pablo Estelles, whose only cap was eight years ago against Chile.
Passed fit were flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez (ankle) for his 50th cap and fullback Joaquin Tuculet (concussed), who were hurt against Wales.
But not as badly as Argentine pride.
Wales was vulnerable after a mauling from Australia, but the Pumas were their own worst enemy with too many errors, including knock-ons, poor kicks, a crabbing backline, little penetration, and no imagination. Perhaps even worse, their scrum was ineffective.
After blowing a chance in Cardiff, Argentina must win on Saturday to stay in the top eight of the world rankings, and in position for a better draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Scotland was ranked No. 9, and desperate to climb, too.
But Scotland coach Vern Cotter simply wanted a win after failing to close out Australia again in a 23-22 loss last weekend.
"We don't want to contribute to the same extent against Argentina," Cotter said. "We're looking at discipline, decision-making close to the line, not precipitating things, taking time, waiting for structure to be in place, and then power up on them.
"I thought defensively we did well at the weekend and we want to improve our set-piece defence. Australia scored two tries from set-piece last weekend. It was the first hit-out in the autumn, and there were things that we focused on. Now the players are determined to do better."
Last week's defeat hurt more than just Scottish pride. Lock Richie Gray was concussed and flanker John Hardie needed surgery after spraining his ankle, ruling him out of action for up to eight weeks.
In their places came lock Grant Gilchrist, who captained Scotland to a win over Argentina in Cordoba two years ago, and uncapped Edinburgh back-rower Magnus Bradbury. Hooker Fraser Brown also replaced Ross Ford, who earned his 100th cap last weekend.
The return of wing Tommy Seymour for Tim Visser was the only change in the backline.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown, Allan Dell. Reserves: Ross Ford, Alex Allan, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, Ryan Wilson, Ali Price, Pete Horne, Tim Visser.
Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Juan Martin Hernandez, Santiago Cordero, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo; Facundo Isa, Javier Ortega Desio, Pablo Matera, Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Ramiro Herrera, Agustin Creevy (captain), Lucas Noguera. Reserves: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Pieretto, Leonardo Senatore, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Cubelli, Jeronimo De la Fuente, Juan Pablo Estelles.