Argentina upset Scotland’s November dream

Scotland crashed to earth with a thump as the stubborn Pumas wrecked their autumn clean-sweep bid on Saturday with a 9-6 win at Murrayfield.

The hosts had been confident of landing their first mini Grand Slam since 2002 after their triumphs over Fiji and Australia.

But they were given a reality check as they look ahead to the Six Nations campaign.

To add to the Scots’ woes, the Rory Lamont injury jinx struck again.

The full-back – who has been forced to endure a series of lengthy lay-offs – suffered a suspected broken ankle after being sandwiched in a challenge and is likely to miss the start of the championship.

Phil Godman’s penalty double had given Scotland a first-half platform -only for Martin Rodriguez to match his feat and clinch victory with a late drop-goal.

The Scots made a sparkling start, keeping the ball in their hands and stringing together double-figure series of phases.

Their approach was radically different from last weekend’s kick and chase tactics against Australia.

Despite the clever stuff, they were unable to put instant points on the board – and it was Argentina who had the first chance to break the deadlock.

Prop Allan Jacobsen was guilty of swinging his arm, but he heaved a huge sigh of relief as he watched Rodriguez miscue his 40-metre strike.

In the wake of their fruitless opening flourish, the Scots began to keep it tighter, sucking in the rugged Pumas defence.

And they earned a penalty opportunity in the 15th minute, which Godman confidently banged over from dead in front.

Godman returned to centre stage when Ben Cairns pressured the Argentine markers into giving away another penalty in the danger zone.

But this time he pulled it wide of the far post from an awkward angle.

Scotland stepped up the momentum with a dash down the middle by Sean Lamont, but the immediate bid for more points was snuffed out when Al Strokosch failed to latch on to Godman’s crosskick to the corner.

He then grimaced with frustration as his next pot at goal drifted wide of the target.

The action became more scrappy and disjointed with the Pumas clearly attempting to slow the ball down whenever possible.

And Irish referee Alan Lewis issued them with a general warning for illegally piling up bodies in the ruck.

Godman then earned a confidence boost by re-discovering his kicking touch to double his side’s advantage with a penalty from 45 metres when visiting skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe infringed.

Argentina looked much more enterprising after the restart, sparking alarm bells in the Scots defence for the first time in the match.

Despite being under heavy pressure for the bulk of the opening half, they only leaked six points which gave them reason to believe they could steal the glory.

Then came a triple setback for Scotland.

Nathan Hines was yellow-carded for a spear challenge on Gonzalo Tiesi -and full-back Rory Lamont departed with his damaged leg.

Seconds later, the Pumas broke their duck thanks to a sweet strike by Rodruguez.

In addition to Chris Paterson replacing Lamont, both teams made a spate of substitutions in a bid to stage a decisive finale.

The momentum had swung in favour of the visitors and it was no surprise when Rodriguez repeated the doze from close range after the Scots scrum disintegrated.

Against an Pumas pack regarded as being among the mosrt powerful in the world, the pressure was right on Scotland.

And they were dealt a reprieve when the next penalty attempt by Rodriguez flew off course.

That was the cue for Scotland to return to attack mode with a raid featuring Johnnie Beattie and Sean Lamont.

But there was still no way through the sturdy South American defence.

And Rodriguez emerged as the Puma hero with his simple drop-goal.

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