Mark Bennett: Argentina v Scotland second Test in Salta is ‘huge game’ says rejuvenated centre

Six years after he last started for the national team, Mark Bennett marked his return with a try and although it wasn’t enough to stop Scotland falling to defeat in Argentina the centre believes the squad can turn it around for next week’s second Test.

Scored a fine try on his first Scotland start in six years and should keep the jersey for next week. 6
Scored a fine try on his first Scotland start in six years and should keep the jersey for next week. 6

Bennett, 29, has enjoyed a renaissance at Edinburgh this season, flourishing under Mike Blair’s more expansive style. He was the club’s player of the year and forced his way into the Six Nations squad, appearing as a substitute against France and Ireland.

But Saturday’s game in Jujuy was his first start for Scotland since the 43-16 win over Georgia at Rugby Park in November 2016.

“I’m absolutely delighted to get a start,” Bennett said. “Six years out of the international team is a bloomin’ long time, so I’m delighted with that and it’s always nice to get a try as well, but obviously the result didn't go the way we wanted even though we had our opportunities.

“It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. Just getting that opportunity to get out and show what I can do.”

Bennett’s try sparked a Scotland comeback and Rory Hutchinson scored a second shortly afterwards as Scotland got back on level terms after trailing 18-6 at half-time. But Argentina struck back immediately, scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou scoring their third try of the match, and they eventually went on to win 26-18.

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Scotland went on tour without the influential Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Chris Harris, who were all rested, while Jamie Ritchie missed out through injury. Hamish Watson didn’t play in the first Test due to a shoulder/chest knock but should return for this Saturday’s second Test in Salta and Bennett believes Scotland can get back on track.

Mark Bennett scored a fine try on his first Scotland start in six years.

“It’s a huge game and it’s quite rare we get that opportunity to turn around seven days later and go with the same opposition,” the centre told BBC Scotland’s Sportsound. “The big thing is the errors were more ours and controllable by us. It’s an exciting opportunity to go out and make things right next weekend.

“The guys who aren’t here are quality players but we’ve got great players here as well. When you’re looking forward to a World Cup we need that depth so players have got to take their opportunities and step up.”

Argentina's Matías Orlando feels the full force of a Mark Bennett tackle. (Photo by Pablo Gasparini/AFP via Getty Images)
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