Autumn international: Scotland 19-16 Argentina
|Scotland (6) 19|
|Try: Maitland Con: Laidlaw Pens: Laidlaw 4|
|Argentina (3) 16|
|Try: Orlando Con: Sanchez Pens: Sanchez 3|
Greig Laidlaw's last-minute penalty snatched a 19-16 victory for Scotland over Argentina at Murrayfield.
Captain Laidlaw and Nicolas Sanchez traded penalties in a first half of little quality.
Matias Orlando and Sean Maitland scored fine converted tries in a livelier second 40 minutes.
Fly-half Finn Russell saw his drop-goal charged down with a minute to play but, with the clock red, Laidlaw's penalty sailed home to snatch the win.
Crucially, the result takes Scotland above Argentina and into the top eight of the World Rugby rankings, ahead of the 2019 World Cup draw in May.
The top eight nations will comprise the highest seeding pots, meaning, in theory, they will benefit from a more favourable pool draw.
Ambition makes way for caution
Last weekend against Australia, the Scots roared out the blocks - generating quick ball and playing at a tempo the Wallabies struggled to live with.
This was altogether different, with the ambition and accuracy largely missing in what looked like a more cautious approach from the home side.
On a cold Edinburgh evening the handling of both sides in the first half was poor. The passes of the Scotland half-backs - Laidlaw and Russell - were not hitting their mark, though there was nothing wrong with Laidlaw's work with the boot. The captain's two penalties put his side 6-0 ahead.
Scotland were proving too predictable in attack, and any inroads they did make into Argentine territory were undermined by the concession of nine turnovers in the opening 40 minutes.
John Barclay carried hard, as did debutant Magnus Bradbury whose scramble defence near his own line kept the visitors out.
Flashes of brilliance
Sanchez popped over penalties either side of the break to level things up, and when the moment of class the match had been screaming out for finally arrived, it was the Pumas who produced it.
Playing with a penalty advantage, Juan Martin Hernandez dropped a cross-field kick over the head of Maitland, which bounced into the arms of Orlando, who shrugged off the tackle of Stuart Hogg to go in under the posts.
The Scottish reply was immediate. Huw Jones, so impressive in a two-try display against Australia but quiet here, once again showed his prowess near the try-line.
The Stormers centre slipped one tackle and held off another to off-load for Maitland to go over in the corner. Laidlaw's touch-line conversion squared things up at 13-13.
The Scots were pinged for a scrum infringement and Sanchez duly nudged Argentina back in front with the boot, only for Laidlaw to respond in kind to make it 16-16.
Scotland lifted the tempo in the closing stages - Laidlaw, Russell and Hogg all now playing on the front foot, desperately seeking a ruthless touch to cap their industry, as Russell sent his first of two drop-goal attempts wide.
Laidlaw had a chance to nudge his side ahead with three minutes to play, but his arcing penalty from the right bounced back off the upright.
The ball was regathered, though, by the chasing Scots, who now had possession in the shadow of the posts. But that meant the Argentine defenders could quickly close Russell down, and parry away drop-goal effort number two.
That, it seemed, was that. But the Scots continued to rack up the phases as the clock ticked past 80 minutes, and when Juan Leguizamon was penalised for a clumsy, no-arms tackle, Laidlaw pounced from the tee.
Scotland: Hogg, Maitland, Jones, Dunbar, Seymour, Russell, Laidlaw (captain); Dell, Brown, Fagerson, Gilchrist, Gray, Bradbury, Watson, Barclay.
Replacements: Ford, Allan, Low, Swinson, Wilson, Price, Horne, Visser.
Argentina: Tuculet; Moroni, Orlando, Hernandez, Cordero; Sanchez, Landajo; Noguera, Creevy (captain), Herrera, Petti, Alemanno, Matera, Ortega Desio, Isa.
Replacements: Montoya, Botta, Pieretto, Senatore, Leguizamon, Cubelli, De la Fuente, Estelles.