PARIS, France — Scotland’s World Cup run came to a disappointing end at the quarterfinal stage as Argentina won 19-13 to claim the final last four place and a date with South Africa next weekend.
Only in the last 20 minutes did the limited Scots find anything resembling an attacking edge, and it resulted in replacement scrum-half Chris Cusiter’s try just after the hour mark.
Scotland plugged away in a tense last few minutes looking for a final score as Argentina were forced to hang on after looking so comfortable for much of a low-quality affair.
Chris Paterson and Dan Parks kicked a penalty apiece for the Scots, with the former adding a conversion, but they made too many errors which the below-par Pumas were glad to punish.
The South Americans’ only try came in the 33rd minute after Gonzalo Longo Elia charged down a Parks kick and collected to go over.
Felipe Contepomi converted and added two penalties to give his side a 13-6 half-time lead.
The center kicked another penalty before Juan Martin Hernandez booted a drop goal and, despite Cusiter’s late salvo, the unbeaten Pumas deserved to advance to their first World Cup semifinal.
After three exciting quarterfinals, the fourth was always likely to be the scrappiest — and so it proved.
Scotland struck the first blow in the 16th minute after Contepomi dragged his first penalty attempt wide. Scrum-half Mike Blair was tackled in the air from the umpteenth up-and-under from Hernandez and Parks knocked over his penalty from halfway.
Contepomi, who had been struggling with flu in midweek, found his range in the 23rd minute, booting over from 40 meters after Nathan Hines’ tackle on Hernandez was deemed high.
Another Hernandez drop attempt then drifted wide but Rory Lamont immediately infringed as he held on in the tackle and Contepomi punished him by nailing the resulting penalty.
With Scotland’s kicking game beginning to flounder, the Pumas were gaining the upper hand and were soon celebrating the first try of the match.
Parks’ clearance was charged down by Longo Elia and the number eight beat Sean Lamont and Ross Ford to the spinning ball to control and ground.
Paterson replied immediately with his first penalty two minutes before the break to make it 13-6 but the Pumas built on their lead with an early second-half penalty by Contepomi.
Parks then missed Scotland’s first penalty miss all tournament and Hernandez added three more points when he dribbled a left-footed drop-goal through the posts.
Two substitutes’ made the breakthrough Scotland were looking for in the 63rd minute. A rampaging run from prop Craig Smith pierced the Argentina rearguard and the ball was taken on by Sean Lamont down the right. It eventually found its way to the left flank where Kelly Brown offloaded for replacement Cusiter to scramble over. Paterson’s conversion clipped the post but went over and it was 19-13.
A tense final four minutes saw Scotland encamped in Argentinian territory but after a series of phases, Parks’ kick into the corner was long and their time was up.