WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Captain Felipe Contepomi returned from injury to kick the conversion of Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino's 73rd-minute try and give Argentina a 13-12 win over Scotland, keeping alive the Pumas' quarterfinal chances at the Rugby World Cup.
Argentina scored the only try of the match to post its ninth win in its last 12 meetings with Scotland and remain in line for a second-place finish in Pool B. That would carry it into a quarterfinal contest with tournament favorites New Zealand.
Scotland coach Andy Robinson regretted "30 seconds of madness" which yielded Amorosino's try, cost his team a win after it seemed to have secured when it led 12-6 inside the last 10 minutes and which has now left everything to play for in the pool
Scotland must now beat traditional rivals England in its last match in Pool B on Saturday to have any chance of preserving its record of reaching the quarterfinals at every Rugby World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987. But England, Scotland and Argentina are all in desperate competition for two quarterfinals places.
If Scotland beats England and denies the 2003 champions a bonus point of any kind and if Argentina scores more than four tries to beat Georgia on Sunday, England could miss out on the knockout rounds.
"I think Scotland lads are owed tremendous credit for the way they've gone out and played that game," Robinson said.
"I thought tactically very smart in our approach to the game and we created a number of opportunities. Thirty seconds of madness has really cost us.
"I think you've got to take your hats off to Argentina as well. To find a way to win that game in the second half I thought was outstanding. They were able to find an answer which was disappointing from our side. Their never-say-die attitude got them through."
Fullback Chris Paterson and flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson kicked penalties in answer to a goal from Contepomi to give Scotland a 6-3 win at halftime in a match played in lashing rain which quashed enterprise.
Jackson and his replacement Dan Parks then kicked second-half dropped goals on either side of a penalty by Contepomi to lift Scotland to a 12-6 lead with nine minutes to play.
But Amorosino, who replaced Martin Rodriguez at fullback, danced through three defenders after Scotland had failed to secure the kickoff which followed Parks' dropped goal and scored close enough to the posts for Contepomi to land the winning conversion.
"It's very hard to speak individually in a collective sport," Contepomi said of his performance which helped Argentina secure a win which also keeps its quarterfinals hopes alive.
"It was an important game for the team, it was a must-win game and maybe we didn't manage to play the way we practiced. But it's important that we managed to turn around six points in the final 10 minutes."
Amorosino followed his try with a grievous error which gave Scotland a final hope of retrieving the match. He dropped a kick into touch a meter from his goal line in the 79th minute, allowing Scotland to regain possession from an attacking lineout.
Although the Scots maneuvered into good field position, Parks' final attempt at a dropped goal skewed wide of the posts. Scotland suspected an Argentina player, creeping offside, may have thwarted Parks' attempt but withheld any criticism after the match of England referee Wayne Barnes.
They looked at their own list of missed chances, two failed dropped goal attempts and a missed penalty in the first half, Parks' missed dropped goal in the second and at least two tries that should have been scored but went begging.
Argentina mounted a flat, stubborn defense and Scotland often wasted possession by taking it too directly into contact.
"Credit to the Scotland side, I thought it was a really good performance," Robinson said. "But it's about being able to finish things off. We're playing in the best tournament in the world and you've got to be able to finish a team like Argentina off because they're very good at staying in the game and certainly they did well to stay in that game today."
Contepomi showed the value of his massive experience in his 73rd test, his 15th at a Rugby World Cup, by scavenging on the fringes of the breakdown, turning defense into attack with flykicks of short runs into gaps.
As the rain became heavier in the second half, both sides were loathe to persist in the running game. They turned to kicks in an effort to impose pressure or to find space behind defenses.
Scotland twice came close to unlocking the Pumas defense early in the second half with well-placed kicks for its wingers. Right winger Max Evans retrieved his own kick in the 47th minute but was brought down by the last defender five meters from the line. Left winger Lamont lost another dangerous kick in an aerial contest for possession three minutes later.
Contepomi missed a long-range penalty attempt in the 59th minute but succeeded from shorter range four minutes later to tie the scores at 6-6.
Jackson slotted a dropped goal — the second of his international career — two minutes later from more than 40 meters. Contepomi had a chance almost immediately to tie the scores again but his penalty from 40 meters in front of the posts, urged on by the many Pumas fans in the crowd of 27,000, glanced of the left-hand upright.
Parks then added his dropped goal for a 12-6 lead. It was then left to the dancing feet of Amorosino and the reliable boot of Contepomi to deny the gallant Scots.
Argentina 13 (Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino try; Felipe Contepomi conversion, 2 penalties), Scotland 12 (Chris Paterson penalty; Ruaridh Jackson penalty, dropped goal; Dan Parks dropped goal) HT: 3-6.