Autumn Nations Series: Five takeaways from Scotland v Argentina as Finn Russell once again makes a mockery of Gregor Townsend’s previous selection call

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Following a 52-29 victory for Scotland over Argentina in their Autumn Nations Series fixture, here’s our five takeaways from the match at Murrayfield.

Scotland end the year in perfect style

As one of our social media favourites, Graham Love, often tweets, it’s all aboard the Hype Train for Scotland after this clinical win, albeit against a 14-man Argentina side. Notwithstanding their numerical advantage, Scotland and their passionate fans can be delighted with this showing as they sign off 2022 in style.

Eight tries were banked by Gregor Townsend’s men as Finn Russell enjoyed one of his best games in a Scotland jersey, with a complete performance allowing their deadly backline to cut loose and it showed. Indeed, all of Scotland’s scores came from those behind the scrum as they relished the open spaces at Murrayfield.

Players, coaches and supporters can look to 2023 with excitement and genuine hope as a solid Six Nations assault is on the cards and who knows what confidence that would bring the Scots before the showpiece event in France later in the year. If they can find that elusive consistency to performances such as this then why shouldn’t they be considered a major threat to Ireland and South Africa in the World Cup pool stages next year. Look out for the dark horse Scots in 2023.

Marcos Kremer continues to be a liability

The flanker is a brilliant player who has had a fine year but most games he does something utterly stupid. Sometimes it is minor, like a needless penalty, but on other occasions those brain fades really cost his side, like it did at Murrayfield. Kremer’s illegal clearout on Jamie Ritchie was both dangerous and, well, utterly pointless, preventing his team from having the chance of beating Scotland.

Just before the back-row did the reckless act, Los Pumas were on top and had the momentum, but that was halted immediately thanks to Kremer’s foolishness. His team-mates battled valiantly yet they never looked like winning the contest. While the 25-year-old has had an excellent year, he needs to cut out his ill-discipline otherwise it could prove very costly at next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

How was Finn Russell ever dropped?

So much for being out of form. The Racing 92 fly-half was utterly majestic throughout the 80 minutes and was at the heart of pretty much everything the hosts did well. Russell understands the game so well, which means that more often than not he makes the right decision and that was in evidence in Edinburgh.

You could certainly make a decent claim that Russell is the best fly-half in the world right now. He manipulates defences, controls the game with the boot and also kicks well off the tee, making a mockery of Townsend’s decision ahead of the Autumn Nations Series. The head coach quite frankly needs to get over whatever issue he has with the 30-year-old as he wins them matches and is their best hope of having a positive campaign at next year’s World Cup.

Scottish wings complement each other superbly

Although there is a big difference between them in stature, Scotland’s wide men – Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham – are both potent attackers and complement each other well. Apart from their contrast in size, Van der Merwe and Graham are also poles apart in their approach to the game but they did what was expected of them against the Pumas and both got their names onto the scoresheet.

Van der Merwe’s powerful carries proved a real handful for the visitors, especially during the first half, and he was rewarded with a well-taken try during that period. He continued to impress with his physicality on attack, finishing with 79 metres gained from nine carries with four broken tackles, while also putting in some big hits on defence.

Meanwhile, Graham was less prominent in the execution of his defensive duties but more than made up for it with ball in hand. Blessed with quick feet and pace aplenty, he provided plenty of headaches to the Argentinian defence and was rewarded with a hat-trick of tries for his efforts. This, after he gained a match-high 187 attacking metres which included 14 runs and eight broken tackles.

Overenthusiasm from Argentina

After an underwhelming effort in their defeat against Wales last weekend, the Pumas seemed desperate to improve on that performance and went way too far at times. They appeared fatigued against the Welsh and it looked like they were aware of that and tried too hard to keep up with their opponents. Their discipline suffered as a result, leading to several more cards for the visitors.

Apart from Kremer’s moment of madness, Argentina had three other players sent to the sin bin and at one stage during the second half it looked like they had totally lost the plot when their second-rows Matias Alemanno and Tomas Lavanini were sent to the sin bin, which meant they played with 12 players for about 10 minutes early in the second half.

Alemanno received his marching orders for head contact in a tackle on Jonny Gray, while habitual offender Lavanini was yellow carded shortly afterwards for a professional foul close to his try-line. The visitors’ overenthusiasm did not end there as in the 63rd minute front-row Thomas Gallo also received a yellow card after an off-the-ball scuffle with Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie.

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