Iain Morrison: Impressive display but Horne and Hastings stars of the show

0
Have your say

When we look back at that first ever loss to the USA Eagles we may well thank them for the wake-up call!

Gregor Townsend picked his best team for the last game of the season and the Scotland coach was rewarded with an overwhelming display of power and pace against an admittedly underwhelming Pumas side who, with the odd exception like Leonardo Senatore, looked almost utterly disinterested. They even managed to lose a scrum penalty to the Scottish forwards.

Adam Hastings, left, and George Horne caught the eye against the Pumas. Pictures: SNS Group

Adam Hastings, left, and George Horne caught the eye against the Pumas. Pictures: SNS Group

The Scots had three tries inside the opening 13 minutes, five in the first half alone, and almost all of them owed something to the soft and spineless nature of the hosts’ defence if you can label their touch rugby tackles as such.

I have been bleating about a lack of power and physicality in the Scotland side for a while but at least some of those worries were addressed by the inclusion of Magnus Bradbury and David Denton in the third row of the scrum. Both men carried hard, with able support from Grant Gilchrist and Stuart McInally.

• READ MORE - Argentina 15-44 Scotland: First half blitz stuns Pumas

If there was any concern about the Scottish breakaways it was in Fraser Brown who looked like a hooker playing seven, which is exactly what he is. He is a hooker by trade, captaining Merchiston Castle School from that position and he only moved to the flank, briefly, when returning to club duty with Heriot’s following that long standing shoulder/neck injury that threatened his career.

Brown is strong over the ball, we know that, and he won one superb turnover inside Scotland’s 22 in the first half but he doesn’t boast the mobility or the distribution of a genuine openside.

It is highly unlikely that Townsend sees Brown as a genuine seven but a World Cup squad numbers just 31 players and any built-in flexibility is welcome.

But the real stars of this show were the young half-backs Adam Hastings and George Horne, who combined beautifully for the opening score of the evening. They dove-tailed again for Scotland’s fifth try just before the break and they ran the whole match with intelligence and some aplomb.

Just before half-time Horne got the ball near the Argentina line, he put in a delicate chip kick which his fly-half batted back to him for the scrummy to scuttle over in the corner. Their understanding of each other already suggests that the Finn Russell-sized hole in Glasgow’s squad will be ably filled.

The younger of the Horne brothers on the field was sharp and his distribution was accurate and timely.

He is so slight and it looked like Argentina targeted him for their second try. Horne’s game management was rarely put under scrutiny but he can hardly be blamed for the paucity of the opposition.

His half-back partner Hastings made numerous clean breaks and he varied the attack even if some of his kicking from hand was a little wayward.

The stand-off has the ability to run through the phases almost languidly until he sees a mismatch or a half gap in the opposition line at which point he sparks into life and finds another couple of gears.

Hastings looked like the long-term rival to Russell that may just squeeze the best out of Scotland’s classy No.10.

Ideally Townsend would probably prefer someone a little more experienced but on last night’s evidence the coach may fast-track both half-backs into his matchday squad for the autumn when Fiji and South Africa will offer a much sterner test –Argentina, again, are the third opponent in November.

What Pumas team will arrive at Murrayfield is anyone’s guess but they can’t be worse than they were last night in Resistencia; the irony of the name wasn’t lost on anyone.