IF anyone had been daft enough before the Home Nations headed south of the Equator to suggest that Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England would all force a deciding rubber in each of their three-match series, I would have had to say forget it, because I fully expected the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks to comfortably see off their opponents.

I suppose like many pundits I had fallen for the story of the Southern Hemisphere’s total domination over the Home Nations, and I am just delighted to have been proved wrong. No matter what happens in the three deciding Tests, the Home Nations have done themselves proud with their performances against Argentina, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and particularly Ireland and Wales.  

Having tipped Argentina to win the First Test and then Scotland to win the Second Test, no doubt the bookmakers are quaking in their books as I attempt to do something unprecedented and tip three winners in a row. Or perhaps not.

I thought that if Scotland carried their best form of the First Test into the match in Salta then they could just about squeeze a victory and set up the third and deciding match. I did not expect a four-try drubbing of the Pumas, but then I also did not expect Argentina to have a poor day at the office by their standards of the previous week. Yes, Argentina underperformed but make no mistake, Scotland fully deserved their win on the back of some outstanding play.

Looking back at the television replays, I was struck not just by the manner of the scores which owed everything to the forwards simply out-powering the home pack, but more by the quality of Scotland’s defence which included several tackles that will long live in the memory. I’m thinking particularly of Duhan van der Merwe’s first half tackle on Jeronimo de la Fuente and Rory Darge’s try saving tackle on Santiago Carreras in the second half.

The unsung heroes were all the front-row players who ensured that Argentina’s powerful scrum did not prevail, and I’ll bet Argentina head coach Michael Cheika will have all his front-rowers pounding the scrummaging machine in the run up to Saturday.

Hamish Watson’s return was key to a superb performance by the back row, and to mark his 50th cap with  a try was icing on his cake. All in all it was good all-round performance and I was pleased to hear Gregor Townsend’s declaration afterwards that there would be more to come from Scotland. That’s good coaching – let the squad know that while the victory was pleasing, more will be need on Saturday as Argentina will be stung by their reverse and they are too professional not to react properly and up their game for the decider.

Unless Scotland really do have more gears to go up as the head coach suggests, then I think it will be a very close game on Saturday. If Scotland can keep their momentum going, then I can see them edging it. My one concern is that most of the squad have had very long seasons, and that might just tell in this final match. Then again they are all fit professionals, and should withstand one last Argentinian charge.

I do not expect all four Home Nations to triumph on Saturday, but England looked superior to Australia and you can expect Ireland and Wales to give their very best to try and secure a historic series win. So while I am hopeful for all four Home Nations to win, I am very far from confident that they all will do so.

Scotland I am confident about, and a series win over Argentina will be something to boast about, especially when it has been achieved without Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Chris Harris.    

The fact is that with the World Cup in France just over a year away, a Scotland squad has proven that it can survive the loss of top figures, and with the aforementioned trio and Jamie Ritchie ready to come back, Scotland can look ahead with a fair amount of anticipation for the Autumn Tests and Six Nations.

You cannot wrap players in cotton wool in the run-up to the World Cup, but at least we now know that there is some genuine strength in depth in the Scotland squad, and while it is inevitable that not all our first choice players will make it to France, then at least we have good players backing up the top 23 – and that’s how it should be.

Much has been made of the failures at under-20 level and I will look at that and suggest some solution in a future column, but right now I think Scotland’s men’s squad is as good as it could be and while Townsend is right about needing to see more from his men, I think we should just be glad that we have players and coaches who are not prepared to be second best to anybody – and we haven’t always been able to say that about Scotland in the past.