‘It’s been eating me up all summer’ – Zander Fagerson seeks to atone for Scotland’s heartbreaking defeat in Argentina – .

‘It’s been eating me up all summer’ – Zander Fagerson seeks to atone for Scotland’s heartbreaking defeat in Argentina – .
‘It’s been eating me up all summer’ – Zander Fagerson seeks to atone for Scotland’s heartbreaking defeat in Argentina – .

Scotland will lift the curtain on their autumn campaign against Argentina at Murrayfield on Saturday, looking to redeem a summer streak lost to the same opponents.

Zander Fagerson during the Scottish team race at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group)

The heartbreaking nature of the third Test defeat at Santiago del Estero left an indelible mark on those who played there, and neither did Zander Fagerson.

“The third was a big game for me, it was my 50th cap so I remember it pretty well,” the prop said. “It’s been eating me up all summer. We were playing well in the game, but for the last 20 minutes or so we just fell apart. Then they got their cues and some quick play passes and they scored on the last play of the game.

“There were times when we could have put this game to bed. We were held over the line and then they came down the field, discipline costs us, they got the scrum and come down the field and score. That one really hurt and I can’t wait to make amends on Saturday.

Scotland played some of their best rugby of the tour at Santiago del Estero but squandered a 15-point lead in the final 30 minutes to put the hosts back in the game, with Emiliano Boffelli applying the knockout blow in the last seconds. The winger’s late try tipped the series in Argentina’s favor and Scotland, who led 28-13, ended up losing 34-31.

The inability to see games from a winning position continued to haunt Gregor Townsend’s team in the fall series. They led Australia 15-6 with 27 minutes remaining but ended up losing 16-15. Against New Zealand a fortnight later they were leading 23-14 going into the final quarter only for the All Blacks to recover and win 31-23. Fagerson is reluctant to attribute those setbacks to mental frailty, but the team have availed themselves of the services of Aaron Walsh, a mental skills coach seconded from the New Zealand-based Chiefs.

“It’s a high performance, high pressure game these days that it’s literally the smallest things,” Fagerson said. “A penalty here and they go halfway down the field, get a lineout, hit it and get a try. It’s about being in the moment, sticking to our systems and processes. This is where we sometimes get undone when the boys try to figure things out on their own. Our strength to trust our systems. When you try to solve problems on your own, we give dumb penalties. This is key work for us.

Scotland’s discipline has not been flawless so far, with 14 penalties against Australia, 11 against Fiji and 13 against New Zealand. There were also yellow cards in every game, for Glen Young (Australia), Stuart Hogg (Fiji) and Jack Dempsey (New Zealand).

Townsend felt the chances missed in the opening 50 minutes against the All Blacks were more relevant than the fateful last quarter, but he acknowledged Scotland “have to be better in those last 15 minutes”. The coach added: “In the game against Australia we went from being nine points up and almost scoring a try, to giving away a penalty and a yellow card and having a point delay. But we came back after that and had a chance to win [Blair Kinghorn missed a penalty in the final minute].

“The weekend there [against New Zealand], the circumstances were different, but we feel that we should have been more advanced on the scoreboard. Yes, we could have done better in the last 10-15 minutes. They made inroads in our defense which had been very strong until then.

“In Test rugby now it’s so competitive between all the teams in the world top 10 that if you slip up in any period including the last 10 minutes it will come back to bite you, and if you don’t take your opportunities then it will be a much harder game to win.

Argentina followed up their series victory over Scotland with two wins from six in the Rugby League. The victories were memorable; a 48-17 dismantling of Australia in San Juan and a historic 25-18 triumph over the All Blacks in Christchurch a fortnight later.

Victory over Eddie Jones’ England at Twickenham earlier this month was another eye-catching result and although the loss to Wales last weekend Townsend knows Scotland face a meticulous examination. “They played very difficult rugby,” said the Scottish coach. “Once they cross the halfway line, they are ambitious, they like to play. They are rightly one of the best teams in world rugby right now.

The latest World Rugby rankings put them sixth, three places ahead of Scotland, but the Scots can edge them if they win by more than 15 points at Murrayfield.

Do you think Scotland would get a win of any kind as they look to end a largely disappointing year on a high note. Seven defeats in 11 Tests so far leave them on the debtor side for 2022 regardless of the result against Argentina, but there were spells last week against New Zealand in which Scotland played his best rugby of the year.

“We were in the game for so long and it was just the last little bit, so a lot of lessons to learn,” Fagerson said. “It’s a short week, but we have to bounce back right away. All eyes are on Argentina and we are looking to set ourselves apart with a performance we can be proud of.

“We showed previews, but we didn’t do a full 80-minute performance in games. We have to go out there and be ruthless, bring them the whole game and come away with a win.

Scotland v Argentina (Autumn Nations Series, Saturday, BT Murrayfield, kick off 3.15pm. TV: Live on Amazon Prime)

Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg; 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Jonny Gray, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Matt Fagerson, 7. Jamie Ritchie (c), 8. Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Murphy Walker, 19. Glen Young, 20. Andy Christie, 21. Ben White, 22. Blair Kinghorn, 23. Cameron Redpath.

Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia; 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli; 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou; 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 3 Eduardo Bello, 4 Matías Alemanno, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 6 Juan Martín González, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Pablo Matera.

Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Lautaro Velez-Bazan, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matías Moroni.

Arbitrator: Karl Dickson (English).

. It devoured all summer Zander Fagerson seek atone defeat heartbreaking Scotland Argentina

. eating summer Zander Fagerson seeks atone Scotlands heartbreaking defeat Argentina

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