Argentina battle to edge Scotland in series of thrillers and seals | rugby federation
Edinburgh winger Emiliano Boffelli broke the 80-minute mark to deny Scotland a victory in Argentina.
Scotland were 15 points clear with half an hour to go after double tries from Duhan van der Merwe and Ewan Ashman, but the hosts fought back to seal a 34-31 victory in front of 30,000 fans in Santiago del Estero.
The thrilling decider ended in dramatic fashion as Argentina worked the ball wide for Boffelli – who finished with 17 points – to pass after sustained late pressure.
The winger had squandered a good chance for an early try when he mishandled on the touchline, but the Edinburgh man quickly kicked in a penalty to open the scoring.
Scotland had made eight changes after their second Test victory with full-back Ollie Smith making his debut, and they finally came to life in the 13th minute. Blair Kinghorn squeezed between two opponents and unloaded on Van der Merwe to cross the line.
Boffelli soon became involved when Argentina responded. The 27-year-old set up Santiago Carreras to go over the top and then kicked the hosts 10-7 in front.
The action continued as Ashman powered past a maul line and Kinghorn added his second conversion. Boffelli reduced the backlog with a penalty and Kinghorn hit the bar with a long-range penalty attempt in the final minute of the half.
Scotland took control within the first 10 minutes of the second half. Ali Price fed Kinghorn, whose quick pass allowed Ashman to cross wide. Van der Merwe then cut inside to follow a good ball carry from his forwards to start again. Kinghorn’s kick seemingly dominated Scotland well, but the hosts fought back within three minutes.
An unnecessary penalty allowed Argentina to put the Scots under pressure and Tetaz Chaparro went over after the five-yard scrum.
The Scottish field helped them settle in and Kinghorn put the visitors 11 points ahead with 15 minutes remaining. Argentina refused to give in and Gonzalo Bertranou scored from close range in the 67th minute.
Four points clear of Scotland, they squandered the chance to take a penalty and Jonny Gray was held off as he worked his way over the line after the line-out.
Dave Cherry had some big hits and Price had a life-saving tackle as Scotland tried to hold off the pressure, but Boffelli had the last laugh when he dived and then added a finishing touch with a kick kick from the touchline.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was proud of his players despite the blow. He told Sky Sports: “I really feel for the players because a lot of their display was full of courage and skill.
“It was our best display of the tour and it would have been a famous win, but the feelings right now are the opposite of that.”
Townsend refused to criticize his players for kicking for the corner instead of the goal when they were four points clear heading into the final 10 minutes.
“We took a 15-point lead shooting towards the corner in the first half,” he said. “We backed each other up and just couldn’t get the ball past the try line.”