Six-try Scotland ran riot in Argentina as they rounded off their season with comprehensive 44-17 victory in Resistencia.
Five scores in a fluent first-half display saw Scotland catch their hosts completely cold and pave the way for their most emphatic-ever win in Argentina.
A third-placed finish for Gregor Townsend’s men at the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations represented real progress, with a first win over England in a decade the undisputed season highlight.
But this performance will also live long in the memory, with Scotland’s positivity and attacking intent a joy to behold especially in the first half.
It also symbolised a strong response to the humiliating, 29-30 defeat to USA last weekend and ends a season of progress on a positive note. DON’T BE TOO HAST-Y
Townsend chose to keep the faith in the inexperienced half-back pairing of George Horne and Adam Hastings, that ailed in the USA loss and was a lightning rod for criticism.
The stand-off in particular had plenty to gain from this summer tour, his head coach desperately seeking high-quality back-up for Finn Russell.
Furthermore, the way Peter Horne spoke of his younger brother’s hurt after the Edmonton debacle suggests the scrum-half has the ruthless mentality to succeed at the highest level.
Hastings helped deliver an early blow to the Pumas brittle mentality, selling a dummy just ten metres out and sending his Glasgow colleague over.
They combined in style for the fifth try on 38 minutes, Hastings latching on to Horne’s intelligent chip and sending the latter over in the right corner.
The pair – that made their Warriors debuts in the same game last year – have been backed by Dave Rennie and now Townsend, whose faith they begin to justify.
LONG LIVE THE KINGHORN
Blair Kinghorn was excused the inquest after defeat to the Stars and Stripes, having impressed with a display that saw him make 94 metres and beat eight defenders.
The 21-year-old burst onto the international scene at the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations, crossing the whitewash against eventual Grand Slam winners Ireland.
So latching onto Nick Grigg’s surge to bag the second try, his third in five Test starts, should advance his case and see him continue to convince the Murrayfield hierarchy of his international class.
TOTAL LACK OF RESISTENCIA
The home crowd at the Estadio Centenario soon lost patience with their crisis-hit team, soon to lose coach Daniel Hourcade and beaten in 17 of their prior 20 outings.
Fit-again skipper Stuart McInally twisted the knife with a third from a smooth set-piece and Magnus Bradbury piled on the misery to make it 28-3 after 21 minutes.
Despite second-half scores from Tomas Lenzana and Santagio Gonzalez Iglesias, either side of Dougie Fife’s try, the Pumas looked a shadow of the Rugby World Cup semi-finalists of 2015.
Despite the pain of losing to the USA, Gregor Townsend learned a whole load more about his side in that game than in this one-sided romp.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
The decision to shift Fraser Brown, a habitual hooker, to openside flanker raised more than a few eyebrows with Townsend’s reputation for selection curveballs justified.
But this strengthened Scotland’s set piece and improved play around the fringes, Brown proving his good hands and game sense can be applied whatever the number on the back of his jersey.
David Denton was colossal at the back of the pack, trucking up more ball than any of his team-mates with ten runs and making ten tackles to boot.
The presence of Denton and Brown, allied to Stuart Hogg’s steady hand on the tiller at full-back, made Scotland a far more formidable proposition.
“We were bitterly disappointed about last week’s result,” said Hogg, “we wanted to finish off on a high and go home happy men.
“There’s a lot of depth in this country right now. The young boys are pushing us, they come in full of energy and ready to learn.”