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Scots’ mixed display in Santiago will only be useful well down the road

Gregor Townsend put a very positive spin on Scotland A's second half struggles in Santiago.
Gregor Townsend put a very positive spin on Scotland A's second half struggles in Santiago.

At some undefined point in the future there maybe some benefit accruing from the 45-5 win by a Scotland XV over Chile in Santiago.

In the long-term. In the short-term it’s hard to see a convincing reason why the Scots went out a week early to South America, other than to get something tangible under their belts before three tests against Argentina.

This non-cap fixture was played outside the international window, the Gallagher Premiership players available to tour ineligible even though that competition finished a week ago.

Six heading home in a few days

Up to six of the winning team will be sent home after a brief stopover in Buenos Aires before the team move up country to the three test venues this week.

So perhaps for the likes of Ollie Smith, Ben Muncaster, Murphy Walker and Matt Currie, who all looked the part on their senior representative debuts, that’ll be it for the summer. Makes one wonder what was the point?

As always, Gregor Townsend clearly has a plan in his own mind, and further building depth in the squad is part of that. But why not keep everyone on for the duration, or at least for another couple of weeks?

One week at Oriam and another in Chile might embed the promising young players a bit, but surely not that much.

As for the game itself, it was very much like Scotland’s games against Tonga, Japan and Italy this season. A fast start, plenty of cohesion and purpose, a few tries to create a position where they weren’t going to lose the game.

Another strange second-half spell

Then a strange spell when cohesion and structure seemed to be lost, possession was often forced, and the Scots lost their way. It amounted to a scoreless half-an-hour when you felt the they could press on.

Two tries in the final two minutes from Rufus McLean and Ali Price put on 12 points and made things look more comfortable. You play for 80 minutes, of course, but a 33-5 finish would have been mildly troubling, considering the ease with which Scotland cruised to that scoreline after 45 minutes.

Both Townsend and captain Luke Cosbie put some spin on that spell. Crosbie, probably on more solid ground, credited the hosts for their resilience and fight.

“It’s credit to Chile for putting us under pressure for the full 80 minutes,” said the Edinburgh flanker. “At times we just need to stick to our system and exit clearly and put them under pressure.

“But again, Chile are a really physical outfit and brought their energy so everything we got we had to work really hard for.”

‘It is no bad thing to concede points’

Townsend conceded that the Scots had lost the initiative, but put a positive slant on it.

“In a way I am glad we had to get those defensive sets in the second half. At the time you are thinking we should be executing a bit more and scoring more tries.

“(We had) the opportunity to do some work without the ball, defending mauls, defending phase play, defending turnovers. I thought our hustle and work back when we lost ball and Chile made breaks were excellent.

“It is no bad thing to concede points here as well. It reminds everybody we have work to do. Next week will be a big step up in terms of opposition and quality of players we’re up against.”

Chile looked outmatched as the Scots ran in five tries early in the game. Three came from Damien Hoyland and two from George Horne. The scrum-half now has eight tries in 11 games in a senior Scotland shirt, seven in his four starts.

The pack and centres Sione Tuipolotu and Currie softened up the Chileans impressively. It was to the credit of the hosts that they regrouped so well in the second half..

Santiago Edwards’ late try was just desserts for Los Condores. They were thoroughly warmed up for their World Cup play-off double header with the USA. The benefit for them was a lot more obvious.

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