AN EXHILARATING display of attacking rugby saw Scotland end their tour on a high note here in Resistencia with a record victory against the Pumas in Argentina. Five tries in the first half crushed the home side’s hopes of winning their final game under Daniel Hourcade, and another was added in the second to make it two victories out of three for the tourists following their previous win over Canada and loss to the USA.

The home side were incoherent in times, especially in defence, and Scotland punished that deficiency with clinical relish. What made such an unbalanced score all the more surprising was the difference in experience between the two sides - with 528 caps to 290, the home team’s starting line-up was vastly more seasoned at this level.

The disparity was especially evident at half-back, where George Horne and Adam Hastings’ cumulative total of five compared to their counterparts’ tally of 144. The Scots made quickly light of that statistic, however, combining to score in the opening minute.

After several phases had edged the attack forward, Hastings broke the first line of defence, then drew the full-back and put Horne in to score behind the posts. George’s brother Peter added the two points, and a crowd that had been noisily enthusiastic before kick-off was swiftly silenced.

Tim Swinson had be stretchered off after going up for a high ball and falling awkwardly, and was replaced by Ben Toolis. But the change had no disruptive effect on the Scots, who went further ahead after 11 minutes when Nick Grigg slipped free of a poor first-up tackle and, with options outside to distract the defence, put Blair Kinghorn through on the inside for another touchdown between the posts which Pete Horne converted.

Argentina had had close to an equal amount of possession during that spell, but time after time failed to make much impact on a well-drilled defence. With three minutes still to go in the first quarter, Scotland gave further evidence of just how determined they were to end the tour on a high, with captain Stuart McInally bursting through from the back of a lineout to score from around the 10-metre line. Another successful conversion made it 21-0, but Argentina then opened their account with a scrum penalty, kicked over by Nicolas Sanchez.

A heavy downpour made handling far trickier, but it did nothing to stop the Scots onslaught, and the fourth try was not long in coming. This time it required more patient driving deep into the Pumas’ 22 rather than a sudden break, and after David Denton had come within less than a metre, Magnus Bradbury finished the move off, with Pete Horne making it another seven-pointer.

It nearly became five tries soon after that, but Simon Berghan’s hopeful pass out to the left wing was too high. A penalty for offside allowed Pete Horne to stretch Scotland’s lead, however, giving the tourists a tally of more than a point a minute in the first half-hour. Even allowing for the poor form the Pumas had displayed in their two defeats by Wales over the previous fortnight, it was an extraordinary period of play, evoking Scotland’s first-half blitz of the French in 1999 on their way to becoming the last Five Nations champions.

Shortly before the break came try No 5, produced from a driven lineout off a lengthy penalty to touch from Stuart Hogg. With penalty advantage being played after the drive was halted illegally, George Horne chipped into the end zone. Hastings tipped the ball back, and the scrum-half himself gathered to touch down in the right corner. His brother was off target this time, but the points tally was already more than Scotland had ever scored before in a cap international against Argentina.

After such a captivating first 40, it was inevitable that the second half should be duller. Argentina got a fortuitous try after Toolis had disrupted a lineout only for the ball to bounce back off the legs of Kinghorn straight into the hands of Tomas Lezana, whose score was converted by Sanchez.

Any notion of a fightback was quickly nipped in the bid when Dougie Fife scored in the corner off a magnificent pass from Stuart Hogg, then an attacking scrum produced a try for Santiago Iglesias.

Pete Horne added a penalty with quarter of an hour left. Then the Scots gave proof of how well disciplined they were by denying Argentina even so much as a late consolation score.

After the dispiriting less in Houston a week earlier, it was a win which owed as much to strength of character as it did to sporting ability. A foreign-language environment in a city where the effects of poverty are all too evident can often disturb players accustomed to their comforts and their routine, but this squad showed no such weaknesses.

Even allowing for how dismal the Pumas were for much of the game, some of the performances here, notably at half-back and in the back row, were enough to pose Gregor Townsend some interesting problems as he continues to ponder his squad for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Argentina: E Boffelli; B Delguy, M Orlando, B Ezcurra, S Cancelliere; N Sanchez, M Landajo; J Diaz, A Creevy, N Chaparro, G Petti, M Alemanno, T Lezana, P Matera, L Senatore. Substitutes: J Montoya, S Garcia Botta, S Medrano, M Kramer, T Lavanini, G Bertranou, S Gonzalez Iglesias, J Mallia.

Scotland: S Hogg; D Fife, N Grigg, P Horne, B Kinghorn; A Hastings, G Horne; A Dell, S McInally, S Berghan, T Swinson, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury, F Brown, D Denton. Substitutes: G Turner, J Bhatti, Z Fagerson, B Toolis, J Ritchie, S Hidalgo-Clyne, J Lang, C Harris.

Scorers: Argentina: Tries: Lezana, Iglesias. Con: Sanchez. Pen: Sanchez.

Scotland: Tries: G Horne 2, Kinghorn, McInally, Bradbury, Fife. Cons: P Horne 4. Pens: Horne 2.

Referee: M Raynal (Fra).