Scotland suffered their heaviest defeat against Argentina at under-20 level after facing a young Pumas side that displayed power, strength and skill to cruise to a comfortable victory in the opening round of the Junior World Championship at Stade Pascal Laporte, Nantes, last night.
Scorers: Argentina – Tries: Etchart, Ezcurra (2), pen try. Cons: Fernandez (3). Pens: Fernandez (6). Scotland – Tries: Farndale, Bennett Pen Allan.
“We gave away far too many penalties and found it difficult to cope with their strength,” said Scotland coach Sean Lineen. “But that’s where we are at the moment. A lot of guys have never been exposed to this level of rugby and today they came up against some incredibly strong men.”
The Scots did have the satisfaction of scoring two first-half tries but the imbalance in the scrum had a devastating effect, Argentina profiting in the first half with a penalty try and from a string of penalty goals by their accurate kicker Patricio Fernandez.
The Scots trailed 10-0 from a penalty and a converted penalty try before registering their first points with a penalty by Tommy Allan. Scotland then added to what, at that stage, was an entertaining game with a try by the Edinburgh winger Jamie Farndale, his seventh in Junior World Championship rugby.
But just as Scotland appeared to be closing the gap, Argentina scored a converted try through winger Rodrigo Etchart.
An impressive score by Mark Bennett again brought the Scots back into the game, only for stand-off Patricio Fernandez to convert further Puma pressure into points with two penalty goals in quick succession giving Argentina a 26-13 interval advantage.
From then on it was all Argentina – Scotland’s cause was not helped by a yellow card shown to Chris Auld – as Fernandez added two more penalty goals and the conversion of the first of two tries by scrum-half Felipe Excurra to give the young Pumas a comfortable win in Pool C.
In the other Pool C match, Wales showed their championship intentions with a 43-3 win over Samoa while, in Pool A, England crushed hosts France 30-16. In Pool B, Ireland secured a 19-15 victory against Australia.
Argentina U20: S Cordero; R Etchart, J Paz, J Aguirre, G Schultz; P Fernandez, F Ezcurra (c); L Paz, S Iglesias, M Diaz, G Pagadizaval, T Lavanini, T Lezana, P Matera, F Isa. Subs: F Gigena, J Montoya, T Ramirez, V Rosti, G Mazzoni, J Bernardini, E Boffelli, A Muler.
Scotland U20: R Young; J Farndale, C Auld, M Bennett, R Hughes; T Allan, S Steele; J Bhatti, R Anderson, D Rae, A Sinclair, J Gray (c), T Spinks, W Bordill, A Ashe. Subs: R Kennedy, R Wilson, P Cringle, R Leishman, E Masterton, A Price, R Fergusson, D Hoyland.
Referee: M Mitrea (Italy).