Rugby-Scotland coach lauds forwards for setting foundation for win

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SALTA, Argentina (Reuters) - Scotland’s forwards laid the foundation for a rousing 29-6 win over Argentina in Saturday’s second test in Salta to the delight of coach Gregor Townsend.

Strong individual performances in the pack ensured not only that Scotland levelled the series, after a limp showing in the first test, but they also kept Argentina’s much vaunted attack from scoring in a dogged defensive display.

Two of the four Scottish tries came from loose forwards Hamish Watson, marking his 50th cap, and Matt Fagerson.

"Our set piece, in particular our scrum and maul, was strong. We weren’t always winning penalties but I felt we had an edge in those two areas and that gives a psychological boost to the rest of the team," Townsend told reporters.

"The Argentinian defence at times was more spread out, which stopped us playing a wider game in the first half. We became more direct in the second half and that brought reward through our forwards but also our centres running hard."

Scotland’s other two tries came from the centre pairing of Mark Bennett and Sam Johnson.

"It was a big step up from last week,” Townsend said of the 26-18 defeat in San Salvador de Jujuy in the first test.

"I’m really pleased with the response, the character that was on show and, in particular, the way we defended our try line.

"We know that Argentina could have scored one or two tries, but the effort to get back and dislodge ball is a big part of our DNA so that was great to see."

The Scotland coach warned there was more to come from his squad, who are touring without regulars like captain Stuart Hogg, mercurial flyhalf Finn Russell and strong centre Chris Harris – who were all British & Irish Lions last year.

"There’s a lot of togetherness in the squad, it’s a group that cares about each other and playing for their country," Townsend added.

"We knew we’d get a response this week. The way the players have trained, how committed they were to improving.

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

The last test is on Saturday at Santiago del Estero.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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