Scotland put up eight tries – including three from flying winger Darcy Graham – to end their autumn nations test series on a high at Murrayfield.
Ill-disciplined Argentina picked up a first half red card as well as three further yellow cards as the Scots played a fast and loose brand of rugby that yielded plenty of scoring at either end.
Finn Russell produced a masterclass at stand off to win the man of the match award and firmly place himself back at the heart of Scotland’s team after being controversially dropped for the opening two games of the autumn.
Argentina could not have stamped their mark any earlier as their outstanding chase from kick off drew a breakdown penalty and Emiliano Boffelli kicked three points with only 90 seconds played.
Scotland were determined to play running rugby and showed their adventurous side with some attempted offloads in attack.
They made the breakthrough when Ali Price secured quick ball and Russell stepped through the onrushing line to pop the ball to Sione Tuipulotu, who finished well through a number of covering defenders inside the 22.
Back came Los Pumas who secured great field position when Duhan van der Merwe took the ball back in his own try line to defend a dangerous grubber kick in behind.
That gave Argentina a scrum on the five metre line and they worked it wide to exploit a overload on the left wing, where Jeronimo de la Fuente scored.
The conversion was missed by Boffelli to keep the visitors’ lead to 8-7.
Player safety is at the forefront of world rugby’s thoughts with brain injuries presenting a serious danger to players past and present.
With 21 minutes played Argentina flanker Marcos Kremer made dangerous contact with a swinging arm to the head of Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie, which left the referee with no option but issue a red card.
The Scots quickly got to work on their numerical advantage as a quick strike off the maul saw Russell offload to Van der Merwe who juggled before grasping the ball and dragging his tacking opponents across the line to score.
Russell’s extras took the men in dark blue ahead 14-8.
Scotland’s speed in attack was now electric – the played the ball off the base of the ruck with the first man in, gave every back license to exploit holes in the defensive line and looked to offload whenever they could.
Argentina could not cope and Darcy Graham was the eventual beneficiary as he burled over on the right wing for the third try of the day for the hosts on 28 minutes.
The tourists re-established themselves in the game through the lineout maul, which they used off some Scottish indiscipline at the breakdown.
After a couple of abortive attempts to roll over the Scots defence, they took a quick tap on the five metre line and eventually managed to muscle across the line through Matias Alemanno.
That made the scoreboard read Scotland 19-15 Argentina at the break.
Scotland’s attacking pattern changed not a bit after the turnaround and again Russell was instrumental as he raced through a gap to offload to Hogg.
Finding himself two-on-one the full back drew the covering man in enough to send Graham away and he hurdled the final despairing tackle to bag his second try of the day on 42 minutes.
The Pumas clearly had not learned the lesson around dangerous clearouts and Alemanno was sin binned for ten minutes for connecting with the head of Jonny Gray in the 48th minute. Just moments later Tomas Lavanini followed him to the sideline for a cynical collapse of the maul as Scotland bore down on the try line.
That left the Pumas with just 12 men on the field and they had to sacrifice a back to get a second row in to the scrum.
Incredibly, as Scotland forced the play, it was Argentina who scored as Santiago Carerras scooped up a loose ball and scampered away before flipping possession to Boffelli who scored under the posts and reduced the deficit to just two points.
Gregor Townsend’s men composed themselves to work an overload on the right shortly after and Tuipulotu was in the right place to finish off the fifth home try of the day.
As they started to replenish their numbers Argentina turned up their intensity in defence – and also sparked several scuffles, including a mass brawl on the touchline just after the hour mark that took a long time to settle down.
Referee Karl Dickson went to TMO to sort out whether any violent offences had taken place – the upshot was yellow cards for prop Tomas Gallo and Scotland captain Ritchie after a stern talking to for both sides.
As they played 14 versus 13, Scotland got back to work and when the Pumas defence was narrowed Russell grubbed through behind for Cameron Redpath to gather and score on 68 minutes.
The visibly tired Pumas were suscepible every time the Scots were able to launch off the set piece and it was Hogg who was able to take advantage on 74 minutes as Russell’s pass carved open the ragged defensive line.
And they got over the 50 point mark when Blair Kinghorn released Graham to produce a flying finish at the touchline post for his hat-trick.
Tuipulotu ended his otherwise-excellent day with a yellow card for a dangerous tackle after the clock had gone red. The Pumas added a fourth try of their own through Ignacio ruiz but the result was already far beyind doubt.
It ends a rollercoaster year for the Scots who underperformed in the Six Nations and lose their summer series 2-1 in Argentina before putting up two autumn wins.
The potency of their all-action attack against Argentina will give plenty food for thought heading into the 2023 Six Nations where more rounded performances will be desired if they are to mount a challenge for silverware.
Scotland Player Ratings
Stuart Hogg 8 – Able to get loose in full flight as gaps appeared in Los Pumas line. All-time Scotland try scoring record holder notched his 27th touchdown in dark blue.
Darcy Graham 9 – Got his dancing shoes on as Scotland’s ambitious attacking plan suited the pocket rocket down to the ground. A hat-trick in a thrilling display.
Chris Harris 7 – Made powerful carries off the flat deliveries that Argentina could not handle all day. Never makes box office plays but is fundamental to Scotland’s game.
Sione Tuipulotu 8 – Magnificent finish to open Scotland’s account and was in the right place at the right time to notch a second against the short-handed Pumas in the second half.
Duhan van der Merwe 8 – So solid in the air and weaved through bodies to find soft spots in the defence.
Finn Russell 9 – Given license to play and had the defence on strings as his flat, hard passes and intelligent running game reaped rewards. A little wayward off the tee but otherwise totemic – including in defence.
Ali Price 7 – Relished the call to play at pace but will regret not marshalling the team to a score against the 12 men.
Pierre Schoeman 7 – Murrayfield cult hero relishes the big hits and cries of ‘SCHOO’ that ring out when he gets ball in hand. Up against tough scrum opponents and fell foul a couple of times.
Fraser Brown 7 – A couple of wayward darts but put in a mountain of work in the loose.
Zander Fagerson 7 – Has shown his excellent conditioning throughout the year by playing nearly every game for Scotland. A rock in the pack.
Grant Gilchrist 7 – Has produced a mountain of industry across the autumn and standards have not slipped. A key man in the boiler room.
Jonny Gray 7 – Big factor in securing quick ball with the general excellence around the tackle area.
Matt Fagerson 7 – Slightly altered role but continued his general robust and energetic international displays.
Jamie Ritchie 7 – All action as ever, playing on the edge as won some and lost some at the breakdown. Took a yellow card for his part in the second half melee.
Jack Dempsey 7 – Impactful autumn for the Glasgow man who made good, hard yards and chipped in with some impressive handling skills.
Replacements 7 – Ben White brought urgency at 9. Cameron Redpath opened his Scotland account with a try. Front row made an impact with George Turner in particular getting in among the action.