'Grit' behind Scots' narrow win over Pumas
REACTION: Scotland coach Vern Cotter saluted the "grit and character" of his players after their dramatic 19-16 win over Argentina at Murrayfield on Saturday.
This result could now have a vital bearing on Scotland's chances of being among the teams in the top two tiers of the May pool draw for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Scotland looked like they would stay in ninth place in the world rankings when captain Greig Laidlaw hit a post with a late penalty and flyhalf Finn Russell had a drop goal charged down.
But with the match going beyond the usual full-time 80-minute mark as the ball was still 'live', scrumhalf Laidlaw landed the decisive penalty three minutes after what should have been the final whistle with the last kick of the game.
That was enough to ensure Scotland would snatch eighth place from Argentina in the World Rugby standings.
"What we saw was a lot of grit and character," said Cotter, whose side conceded a late converted try to lose their opening November international 22-23 against Australia at Murrayfield.
"The guys got what they went for with that determination.
"It wasn't perfect but the result at the end was just a reflection of that determination and character, and of the work that these guys Greig and his team have been putting in," the New Zealander added.
Laidlaw's winning kick came with the two teams on the brink of their first-ever draw.
Argentina centre Matias Orlando and Scotland wing Sean Maitland scored tries, while Laidlaw kicked three other penalties and a conversion and flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez landed three penalties and a conversion for the Pumas.
"What I really liked was that they [Argentina] scored a try and we scored a try straight back," said Cotter. "That was important.
"It's nice to come away with a win in the 83rd minute. I'm very proud of the way the players went about the business."
Laidlaw, who leaves English Premiership side Gloucester to join Clermont in the French Top 14 in June, said: "The boys have been giving me stick for taking two penalties to win it at the end. I was pretty happy to see the second one go between the posts.
"As Vern said, it was a credit to the whole team. After Argentina scored, the message under the posts was: 'don't panic; we can score tries'. We hit straight back and scored and pegged them back. That, psychologically, was a massive blow.
"We're still annoyed from that Australia game if we're being honest so we're delighted to come and just get on the right side of a tight game."
Laidlaw added: "It's massively important to come out on the right side. It gives the players confidence. It's important before we play Georgia next week. And it's important to win here before we come back here in the Six Nations. We're aware we've got three games at home."
While Scotland finish their November series against Georgia in Kilmarnock this coming Saturday, Argentina face in-form England at Twickenham - the Pumas' last chance to gain ranking points before the World Cup draw.
"We only have one more game," said Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade. "And then the games are for our rivals and it doesn't depend on us.
"We hope to play a great game. With a victory in England, we will be more comfortable in the rankings.
"England looks like a difficult game, but we have all the trust in our team."
He added: "It was very disappointing to lose the way we did today. Our game was not consistent. We left the initiative to Scotland. That was the reason why we lost the game."
"Can't argue with the decisions," said Hansen, who gave a terse yes in answer to a question whether he would speak to his players about the number of high tackles they put in.
"However, I would like to see some consistency. I felt the Irish committed the same infringement that Aaron Smith got sent to the sin bin for [coming in from the side] and they didn't get punished.
"The referee had a tough game and did the best, he could - if I said anymore I would get fined.
"You just want them to be consistent. If he was then he had a great game.
"If he didn't we'll talk to him."
Hansen, though conceded the Irish had pushed them all the way.
"They're a side that is going places," he said.