Last week there was an historical score to settle for the Scottish nation. This time it's personal.
Seven days on from the defensive masterclass that earned Scotland their first win in 27 years against Australia (with a little help from Matt Giteau's misguiding left boot), Argentina are next up for Andy Robinson's men at Murrayfield this afternoon. For Scotland's head coach of five months, the motivation goes back not decades but to 11 November 2006. That was the afternoon Robinson's days as England's head honcho became numbered (there were to be just 18 more of them), courtesy of a 25-18 Twickenham defeat inflicted by the Pumas.
Had Toby Flood, fresh off the bench as an international debutant, not furnished Federico Todeschini with a fateful interception pass, it might have been different. Had Robinson kept Charlie Hodgson on the field, it might have been different, too. As it is, the one-time Bath and England flanker is two matches into his mission to revive Scotland's fortunes. Two matches, and two victories into it, that is. A win against Argentina today would make it an autumn clean sweep – Scotland's first since 2002 – and a flying start for the Robinson regime.
The Pumas are not what they were when they faced Robinson's England three years ago. Of their starting XV that day, just four line up at Murrayfield today: the Harlequins centre Gonzalo Tiesi, the Leicester prop Marcos Ayerza, the Toulouse lock Patricio Albacete and the former Sale Shark turned Toulon No 8, Juan Martin Fernandez-Lobbe. Nonetheless, despite the defeats the under-strength Argentines have suffered on their tour, against England (16-9) and Wales (33-16), Robinson is wary of a backlash, and of their inspirational captain, Fernandez-Lobbe.
"They're a wounded animal because they have lost their first two games," the Scotland head coach said yesterday. "They were unfortunate to lose both. They have been playing pretty well and they will be wanting to finish on a high. They have got one huge performance inside them – we know that – and we've got to take the game to them in the first 20 minutes.
"The start is vital, and we've got to show that we can improve with the ball in hand. There are a number of areas in which we are going to be challenged and we've got to deliver. They have one of the most outstanding players in the world in Fernandez-Lobbe. He's the stand-out No 8 in the world. His performance against Wales was awesome. He took on Wales single-handedly."
Scotland: R Lamont (Toulon); S Lamont (Scarlets), B Cairns (Edinburgh), A Grove (Worcester), T Evans (Glasgow); P Godman (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), M Low (Glasgow), N Hines (Leinster), A Kellock (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Gloucester), A MacDonald (Edinburgh), J Beattie (Glasgow). Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow), K Traynor (Edinburgh), J White (Clermont Auvergne), R Vernon (Glasgow), R Lawson (Gloucester), C Paterson (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh)
Argentina: M Aguilla (Brive); L Borges (Albi), G Tiesi (Harlequins), M Rodriguez (Rosario), F M Aramburu (Dax); S Fernandez (Hindu), A Lalanne (London Irish); M Ayerza (Leicester), A Basualdo (Toulouse), M Scelto (Clermont Auvergne), M Carrizza (Biarritz), P Albacete (Toulouse), A Campos (Montauban), A Abadie (Rovigo), JM Fernandez-Lobbe (Toulon, capt). Replacements: A Creevy (San Luis), R Roncero (Stade Francais), E Lozada (Toulon), T Leonardi (SIC), A Figuerola (CASI), B Urdapilleta (CUBA), H San Martin (Tala).
Referee: A Lewis (Ireland).Reuse content