Sean Maitland’s second-half score helped Scotland down Argentina 14-9, securing a second autumn victory at BT Murrayfield.
The Saracens flier scored his fifth try in five games at the home of Scottish rugby, a run including efforts against France and England in the 2018 Six Nations.
It was not pretty but victory, building on a win over Fiji a fortnight ago, leaves Gregor Townsend’s side poised to build on their third-place finish in last year’s edition of Rugby’s Greatest Championship.
Townsend’s decision to pair Adam Hastings, son of 1990 Grand Slam winner Gavin, with Finn Russell at 10 and 12 dominated build-up to the fixture.
But slippery conditions in Edinburgh meant the florid creativity that characterises Hastings and Russell’s play was in scant evidence.
Instead it was all about infringements early on, Greig Laidlaw slotting a penalty after prop Santiago Medrano was penalised for offside at the breakdown.
Simon Berghan, making his first start of the autumn at tighthead, handed Nicolas Sanchez a golden opportunity to level the scores by conceding a penalty of his own but the Pumas stand-off faltered from the tee.
Hastings had some defending to do midway through the first half and his tackle slipped high, offering the visitors another penalty chance but Emiliano Boffelli was also unable to make Scotland pay.
Scotland struggled to build momentum and Sanchez levelled the scores on the half-hour, only for Laidlaw to edge his side in front before the break with a simple three-pointer from just inside the 22.
With neither side able to make a decisive breakthrough, Sanchez and Laidlaw both striking further penalties, Townsend opted to shuffle his pack.
Alex Dunbar came on at centre in place of Hastings, with Russell shunted back to fly-half, and Ryan Wilson and WP Nel were introduced to the pack.
Yet it was the starting cast that orchestrated the winning score – Jamie Ritchie pulling off a jackal to win a penalty and driving his team up the field.
Stuart Hogg was the eventual catalyst, spotting Argentina’s lack of resources on the left-wing and sending Maitland over in the corner to make it 14-6; enough, in the end, to secure the result.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw said: “I felt we controlled the game and did enough to win.
“The conditions dictated a lot – it was never going to be high-scoring. International rugby is all about winning and we managed to do that.
“You’ve got to be patient on days like this – not attack too early and play in the right areas. Finn and the pack got us in the right areas.
“It’s a good tactic to stick high balls up in conditions like this and Argentina did that a lot. We dealt with that well and I think the defence won us the game. The bench had a big impact and accounted for a lot in the end.”
It was a big day for Josh Strauss, starting his first Test in 17 months, with the No.8 earning a surprise opportunity to press his case for minutes in the 2019 Six Nations.
In difficult conditions, the 32-year-old offered plenty of industry but found making metres tough with his five carries yielding 20 metres.
With Ryan Wilson and Matt Fagerson having impressed at the back of the scrum this month, Strauss will have to hope improved mobility that allowed him to make eight tackles will convince Townsend of his worth.
Maitland’s try was the defining act of a game that lacked in forward momentum and opportunities for both sides to fling the ball around in the loose.
Hogg, as so often, showed his class and scanned the Pumas backline to spot the opportunity to send Maitland over.
– Adam Hastings made more metres than any other Scotland player with 49 – The win ensured Scots have not lost consecutive games at BT Murrayfield since 2015. – Scotland have now lost just two of their last 13 outings on home soil. – Hamish Watson led the tackle count for the hosts with 20