EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Captain Greig Laidlaw kicked over a 30-meter penalty in injury time for Scotland to beat Argentina 19-16 in a rugby test at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Laidlaw missed a winning chance in the 78th minute when his penalty shot hit the near right post, his only miss of a tense, feisty match. But Scotland regathered the ball, and flyhalf Finn Russell’s second dropped goal attempt was charged down.
Still, Scotland kept attacking, moved out of its half and into Argentina’s, until it received a penalty from New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe for a defender not using his hands in a tackle. Given a second chance, Laidlaw didn’t miss and broke the tie.
“Thank goodness for the second chance,” Laidlaw said. “I was disappointed with the first one, that right-hand post doesn’t like me at the minute – I missed one there last week (against Australia) as well.
“I thought we stuck in extremely well in a tight game, and we got to the right end of the field.”
The result meant Scotland, from No. 9 in the World Rugby rankings, will rise above No. 8 Argentina. The rankings become significant in May, when top-eight teams are seeded for the draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. A seeding helps a team avoid facing two major teams in the pools. Argentina has one more tour match to affect its ranking, against England next weekend, while Scotland will play Georgia and have to navigate a Six Nations.
Perhaps because of what was at stake, and how even the teams were, their match didn’t really get going on a dry evening until the 50th, with the first try.
Until then, Laidlaw and Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez kicked two penalties each, but both sides sprinkled their effort with errors. Intent was there, as they waived off kickable penalties to go for tries, but struggled to get going.
Then, in the 50th, came some brilliance and luck. Pumas inside center Juan Martin Hernandez weighted his cross-field kick to the left wing, where Matias Orlando got outside Scotland’s Sean Maitland, picked up the ball off the first bounce and ran over Stuart Hogg to score.
Scotland scored its only try four minutes later. Attacking from a scrum, center Huw Jones broke past Orlando and offloaded in a double tackle to an unmarked Maitland.
It was 13-13, and Jones limped off, followed by Pumas livewire scrumhalf Martin Landajo.
Sanchez and Laidlaw traded more penalties to leave it tied going into the last 12 minutes. Scotland played them in the right half, and a kick determined the outcome for the third time in the last four of these matchups.