After two weeks in North America, the Scots head south to face the Pumas for the first time since their crushing World Cup defeat. As with Ireland before them, Scotland send a weakened side to Argentina, though the quality of their hosts is of a similar vein. After their two victories, unimpressive but wins nonetheless, Vern Cotter will be hoping his side can escape South America with a third before facing the mighty Springboks in Port Elizabeth.
As expected it’s all change for Scotland, with only four players that started against Canada retained. Alasdair Dickinson and Ross Ford fly in to bolster the front row, while young Jonny Gray replaces his brother at lock. London Irish pair Blair Cowan and Kieran Low step into starting roles after benching on Saturday, and Robert Harley completes a reasonably large forward pack. Grant Gilchrist becomes Scotland’s youngest captain since Gregor Townsend, wearing the armband in only his 7th test outing.
Former New Zealand u20 halfback Grayson Hart wins his first test start, and is partnered by recalled Duncan Weir. With several players injured or unavailable, Nick De Luca is thrown an international lifeline after being considered surplus to requirements for both club and country. Tommy Seymour fills in on the left wing, with Sean Maitland retained on his favoured right side. Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Tom Heathcote, and Dougie Fife all join the touring party and take a place on the bench.
Daniel Hourcade has opted to make nine changes to his team with the short turnaround, rotating in several players from the bench to go with a couple enforced. Bruno Postiglioni, forced into emergency action as a hooker against Ireland, lines up at loosehead, with Julián Montoya replacing injured Matías Cortese at hooker and Matías Diaz of the Highlanders at tighthead. Matías Alemanno is given a chance to start with impressive Tomás Lavanini left on the bench. Antonio Ahualli failed to make much of an impression on Saturday so Tomás de la Vega is moved to the unfamiliar role of no8, allowing for Javier Ortega to slot in on the blindside.
A new-look midfield sees usual flyhalf Santiago González Iglesias paired with part-time winger Matías Orlando, while Santiago Cordero is recalled to the right wing after being dropped for the last match. Gabriel Ascárate’s knee damage means that uncapped Matías Moroni is called into the reserves. Lucas González Amorosino, whose try sealed defeat for Scotland in New Zealand, moves into his preferred fullback shirt. Tomás Cubelli swaps jerseys with Martín Landajo and inherits the captaincy.
For the Scottish players this is a chance to make a claim for the November test series, for some a last opportunity to stay within grasp of a World Cup spot. Unfortunately they’ll have to succeed against a reasonably confident Pumas side on their home turf, and with only a couple days training together. This match should be competitive, but probably a bit short on continuity. Look for Argentina to be just a little bit more cohesive, doing enough to scrape through to a 2 point win.
ARGENTINA vs SCOTLAND
Friday, June 20, 19:10 GMT, Córdoba
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
Assistants: Pascal Gauzere (FFR) & Lourens van der Merwe (SARU)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (SARU)