AFTER all the disappointments the week before, the 44-15 win in Argentina was one of the most satisfying days of Gregor Townsend’s short international coaching career, writes Lewis Stuart. Though there were eight changes, many of the players who had struggled the week before came to the fore as they delivered the dynamic performance he asked for.
Asked if this was the best the side had played away from home in the year since he took over, Townsend was full of praise: “Yes it was,” he said. “Sydney was very close but in this game we had a younger team, players that have not had experience of Six Nations rugby, who have not had much experience of professional rugby.
“To go out there against a full strength Argentina team who were going to be coming out fighting and do what they did – the confidence and the execution – was great to see.
“They felt as comfortable in north-eastern Argentina as they would have done at Murrayfield. That was one of the goals for this tour, that we put a performance in, hopefully three, that showed we can play to our potential away from home. We certainly did that.”
The head coach had always planned to mix his young players in the first two games in Canada and the USA and then pick his strongest available side against the Pumas. As a selection policy it backfired in America, but with eight changes, seven of them up front, he got the side bang on for this game and they turned on the style. “There was always a balance between putting out a team who could win and giving everyone an opportunity to play,” he said. “Most guys got two games. Yes we could have taken Finn Russell and a number of other people who were fit, but now we have Adam Hastings who’s been involved in three games.
“That’s what we were wanting out of it and with a win that’s obviously much sweeter and much more satisfying. We talked about enjoying that intimidating atmosphere, certainly it changed when we managed to put points on the board.
“We took players here who we believed could be part of the World Cup squad. Some might have to fight really hard and have a great season because they’re up against guys who are probably already pencilled in to the World Cup squad. Everyone knew this was an opportunity, the first opportunity in the next 12 months, to say, ‘pick me’.”
It was an opportunity taken by many. The all-Edinburgh front row had a stormer, winning the only scrum penalty of the game against the famed Puma pack, Grant Gilchrist was as good, and though Tim Swinson went off early with a serious-looking knee injury, Ben Toolis slotted in seamlessly. In the back row, Fraser Brown gave them that ball-hunting turnover threat that was badly missed last week and, given a bit of space, the backs were as strong an attacking force as the six try total suggests.
Source : HeraldScotland