Rugby Union: Townsend feels heat for Scotland's defeat

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Argentina. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Scotland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

ARGENTINA beat Scotland 16-15, relying on stout-hearted defence to win the first Test of a six-match tour. Gregor Townsend was left to carry the can for the Scots, with Dougie Morgan, their coach, describing the stand-off's display as 'shocking'.

Morgan laid the blame on 'bad decision-making'. He said: 'The poor decisions were solely due to the No 10.' The Scots have now played seven internationals without a win and have scored only one try in that time.

In a scrappy game, Argentina just about deserved their win if only because they scored the only try of the match. But, for the most part, the game was an exercise in set-piece play and a poor advertisement for rugby.

Hailed as a precocious attacking talent, the 21-year-old Townsend kicked away any decent possession generated by a hard-working Scottish pack, particularly early on when there were opportunities to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

When Townsend did run it was invariably into trouble and Scotland had to rely on penalties for repeatedly killing rucks to recover from 16-3 down early in the second half.

Mike Dods kicked five penalties from 10 attempts but dropped a catch under his posts when the Argentine stand-off, del Castillo, hoisted a perfectly weighted kick. Dods' error allowed the wing Martin Teran to race through and touch down one minute into the second half of an appalling spectacle.

Scotland play their penultimate match in Rosario tomorrow and several Test places could be up for grabs.

The centre Graham Shiel is strongly fancied to exchange places with Townsend, and Derek Patterson could oust the scrum- half Bryan Redpath, whose inability to break allowed the home forwards to drift infield, further stifling the Scots' game.

Scotland have the chance to level the series in the second and final Test, on 11 June at the same venue.

Argentina: Try Teran; Conversion Meson; Penalties Meson 3. Scotland: Penalties Dods 5.

ARGENTINA: S Meson; M Teran, D Cuesta-Silva, M Lofreda (capt), G Jorge; G del Castillo, N Fernandez-Miranda; M Corral, J J Angelillo, P Noriega, P Sporleder, G Llanes, R Martin, P Camerlinckx, C Temperley.

SCOTLAND: M Dods (Gala); C Joiner (Melrose), I Jardine (Stirling County), G Shiel (Melrose), K Logan (Stirling County); G Townsend (Gala), B Redpath (Melrose); A Sharp (Bristol), K McKenzie (Stirling County), P Burnell (London Scottish), S Munro (GHK), A Reed (Bath, capt), P Walton (Northampton), C Hogg (Melrose), I Smith (Gloucester).

Referee: W Erickson (Australia).