Five straight defeats but Ledesma still happy with Pumas

Mario Ledesma (Gallo Images)
Mario Ledesma (Gallo Images)

Edinburgh - Argentina head into the final game of their European tour, against the Barbarians at Twickenham next Saturday, on a five match losing streak but coach Mario Ledesma insists his side are making improvements on the road to next year's World Cup.

The Pumas missed four of their seven penalty kicks in a 14-9 defeat against Scotland at Murrayfield and Ledesma was livid with his side for spurning a clear opportunity to reverse a run of defeats that started with home losses to New Zealand and Australia in the Rugby Championship and has continued against Ireland, France and now the Scots on their end of year trip to Europe.

"It hurts a lot to lose a game like this," said Ledesma, who has won two of nine matches (against South Africa and Australia) since taking over from Daniel Hourcade after a 44-15 loss to the Scots in Resistencia in June.

"I don't think Scotland found a way to win. We gave them a way. I think we should have won. We missed 15 points and a couple of linebreaks that we should have scored. We need to put away the opportunities presented to us.

"We can definitely build on a performance like this. There are a lot of positives.

"The goal of the tour was to breed a couple of new players and try combinations and keep learning. We're still trying to build a depth.

"There are positives. The only negative about the game is the score."

Veteran flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez kicked all of his side's points, a trio of penalties, but Argentina's record points scorer - who joins Stade Francais at the end of the tour - was off the mark with three other penalties and fullback Emiliano Bofelli pushed wide another.

A 65th minute try by winger Sean Maitland and three penalties by captain Grieg Laidlaw ensured that Scotland ended their four match November series with two victories, following a 21-10 loss to Wales in Cardiff and a 54-17 win against Fiji and 26-20 defeat to South Africa at Murrayfield.

Scotland have home games against Italy and Ireland on the opening two weekends of the Six Nations Championship in February, however, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend admitted: "We're definitely going to have to make improvements.

"We've got to be better in the contact area when we get to the Six Nations. The way we play when we're in attack, we've got to produce quick ball.

"It was great that we finished the series with a win from a game that we had to work hard in, an arm wrestle. It's very satisfying for the players after four tough matches."

Maitland's try came after Townsend had abandoned his ambitious experiment of playing Finn Russell at inside and Adam Hastings at flyhalf, switching Russell into his customary number ten position and bringing on centre Alex Dunbar for Hastings.

"Nothing will be perfect the first time you put people in new positions in international rugby," said Townsend. " "It's something that we will consider in the future."

Ledesma was also unhappy that New Zealand referee Paul Williams and Irish television match official Olly Hodges chose not to give a yellow or red card to Scotland hooker for a high tackle on winger Ramiro Moyano after 25 minutes.

"Clearly, he was late and he applied force," said the former Pumas hooker. "It ticked all of the boxes. But that's the way it is. The referee didn't see it that way the TMO didn't."

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