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Scots down Pumas as north strikes back

Scotland have completed a Saturday of success for northern hemisphere rugby powers over southern rivals as they beat Argentina 29-6 in Salta to level their three-Test series at 1-1.

Scotland outscored their hosts by four tries to nil in a resounding victory as they followed the example set earlier in the day by Ireland against New Zealand, England against Australia and Wales against South Africa in their tour matches south of the equator.

Hamish Watson, Mark Bennett, Matt Fagerson and Sam Johnson all scored tries for Scotland, who lost last weekend’s first Test gainst Michael Cheika’s Pumas 26-18.

Blair Kinghorn kicked over a penalty and conversion while substitute Ross Thompson added two penalties as Scotland scored 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Argentina’s points came from two Emiliano Boffelli penalties in the first half at the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena.

It was a spirited showing from Scotland, whose success in attack was matched by dogged defence as they kept Argentina from crossing their line.

“There’s a lot of togetherness in the squad, it’s a group that cares about each other and playing for their country,” said coach Gregor Townsend.

“We are scratching the surface with that performance, we’ll be working to bring our best performance next week.”

The home side were 6-3 ahead minutes before the break when Watson, on his 50th appearance for Scotland and back after missing the first test through injury, scored the first try, going over at the end of a lineout maul.

The tourists’ 8-6 lead was extended two minutes into the second half as quick ball from scrumhalf Ben White stretched the home defence, and after several phases his short pass saw Bennett crash over under the poles.

Fagerson’s brute strength extended Scotland’s lead in the 53rd minute as he drove over for their third try from close in, and the fourth came from Johnson some 11 minutes later to put the result beyond doubt.

Argentina saw Guido Petti storm to the line and crash over, only for the try to be ruled out because of a forward pass in the build-up.

On three more occasions Argentina, celebrating their Independence Day, went over the Scottish line only to be held up by tenacious defence.

“We had pressure to perform this weekend otherwise the series was over,” Scotland captain Grant Gilchrist said after the match.

“That bit of extra pressure suits us and we really clicked in the second half.”

Argentina captain Julian Montoya said Los Pumas paid the price for a lack of accuracy and efficiency.

“They scored too easy and we are going to work hard for the next game,” he said.

The two sides will decide the outcome of the series in Santiago del Estero next Saturday.

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