Laidlaw late show sees Scotland home
REPORT: A penalty three minutes into overtime by Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw secured a dramatic last-gasp 19-16 victory against Argentina.
It was a thrilling see-saw contest at a near-freezing Murrayfield on Saturday.
The scores were tied at 16-all when Argentina's replacement lock Juan Manuel Leguizamon was penalised for failing to make a valid tackle on Scotland's substitute hooker Ross Ford and Laidlaw stepped forward to make amends for hitting a post with what looked like being a costly penalty miss three minutes from time.
Victory means Scotland will take over eighth place in the world rankings from their beaten opponents, offering the prospect of a less challenging pool when the group-stage draw for the 2019 World Cup takes place next year.
Both teams managed just one try apiece -centre Matias Orlando for Argentina and wing Sean Maitland for Scotland.
In all, Laidlaw kicked a conversion and four penalties, with Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez landing a conversion and three penalties for the Pumas.
Scotland coach Vern Cotter made four changes to the starting XV beaten 23-22 by Australia the previous Saturday, Edinburgh blindside flank Magnus Bradbury coming in for his debut and hooker Fraser Brown, lock Grant Gilchrist and wing Tommy Seymour also included.
Argentina were unchanged for only the second time in Daniel Hourcade's three year tenure as head coach. That meant a 65th cap for the Pumas' 34-year-old midfield maestro Juan Martin Hernández.
Scotland made the more strident start, the Pumas punished for preventing Laidlaw from releasing the ball from a ruck, affording the scrum-half the opportunity to put his side 3-0 up with the opening penalty after two minutes.
The Scots had the Pumas pinned into their own half for most of the opening quarter but struggled to summon the cutting edge they had displayed against Australia.
It took Argentina 17 minutes to muster a threat of their own, scrum-half Martin Landajo - educated at the St Andrews Scottish School in Buenos Aires - bursting over the halfway line but failing to find an attacking colleague with a grubber kick.
Both teams made elementary handling errors and it came as relief to the monotony that set in when Argentina were penalised for collapsing a scrum, allowing Laidlaw to stretch Scotland's lead to 6-0 after 27 minutes.
The wounded Pumas attempted to hit back, Orlando combining with fellow centre Hernández and left wing Santiago Cordero on a break that took the visitors to the brink of the Scotland tryline where Gilchrist rescued the hosts by halting flank Javier Ortego Desio.
Argentina finally got on the scoreboard two minutes before half-time, Sanchez slotting over a penalty from six metres inside his own half.
Three minutes into the second-half the scores were tied at 6-all, Sanchez kicking a second penalty from point-blank range.
Then, with 49 minutes on the clock, Argentina conjured the first try, Hernández chipping a superbly judged kick into the left corner, where Orlando eluded both Seymour and fullback Stuart Hogg.
Sanchez's conversion gave Argentina a 13-6 lead but they were pegged back within four minutes, centre Huw Jones feeding Maitland for a try in the right-corner and Laidlaw converting.
The see-saw continued. After 62 minutes, Sanchez kicked his third penalty, nudging Argentina 16-13 ahead. Then Laidlaw landed his third, squaring affairs at 16-all after 67 minutes.
Finn Russell was off the mark with a speculative drop-goal attempt for Scotland with eight minutes to go - and then had another charged down after Laidlaw had struck the right post with a 77th-minute penalty.
It seemed that the two countries were destined for their first ever draw -- until Laidlaw won it with 83 minutes on the clock.
Pens: Laidlaw 4
Pens: Sánchez 3
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 John Barclay, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Tim Visser.
Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles.
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Thomas Charabas (France)
TMO: Shaun Davey (England)