NOTHING illustrates Gregor Townsend's determined commitment to rely on the inexperienced youngsters against the USA better than the final act of the game.

Dougie Fife had scored in the corner and the result hinged on the conversion. On the field were 24-year-old Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, winning his 12th cap and a regular goalkicker with Edinburgh boasting a strike rate in the Guinness PRO14 of 89 per cent; Peter Horne, 28, winning his 34th cap and with a strike rate of 84 per cent; and Adam Hastings, 21 winning his second cap and with a strike rate of 81 per cent.

Finally, there was Blair Kinghorn, aged 21 and winning his fourth cap, who can kick but is a long way from being a regular practitioner of the art. He hasn't landed a kick in PRO14 games this season and though he has claimed 12 in European Challenge Cup matches, all but one came in games where his side was winning comfortably.

What he had never faced is that kind of pressure, make-or-break kick in a match that really mattered. So, obviously he was the one to be handed the job. What could possibly go wrong?

To be fair, he had been the kicker from the start, opening with a touchline conversion but also missing one from the opposite side of the field as well as a medium-range penalty. Hidalgo-Clyne, who kicks for Edinburgh, was not on when he lined those shots up but had arrived from the bench before the finale.

We all know what happened. The kick was close, but not quite there and the USA ultimately won what was, for them, a famous victory.

Kinghorn says he was happy to take the kick: "That was my role," he said afterwards. "I was the kicker on the day. I felt confident stepping up to it; it’s just one of those things.

"I’ll look at it and learn from it. It’s a massive development curve and I’ll learn from the experience."

Even if it had gone over, it wouldn't have meant Scotland were deserved winners, Kinghorn added. "The USA were a better team than us on the day. They deserved to win. If we had won that game it would have been a real get-out-of-jail for us. We didn’t deserve to win, the right team won in the end," he said.

"If you look at the positives, it was a young team out there. We had two new caps – Matt Fagerson and George Horne – who were both outstanding. A lot of boys were getting their first starts, so everyone will learn from this. We’ll come away better for it.

"We learned how cruel international rugby can be. If you’re not on your game, you pay the price – today we paid the price and lost."

It made the whole experience of his fourth cap a slightly surreal one – joy in the opening minute turning to anguish at the end. He had been on the end of a break from Stuart Hogg to throw himself over the line and give his side a perfect way into the game.

"It was a brilliant start by us, I was really happy with it," he said. "I thought we executed what we wanted to do and it was a shame we just didn’t kick on after that. We made too many mistakes and our discipline cost us in the end.

"We gave away too many penalties on the trot, which hurt us at the start of the second half.

"We’ve still got another week on tour. It will be a massive game against Argentina. We will have a good week and look at what we can improve.

"Losing is the biggest disappointment you can have in a Scotland jersey. Whenever you pull it on you want to win and do your country proud, and we didn’t do that."

The problem will be regrouping the side in time to take on Argentina on Saturday. The Pumas have lost both Tests to Wales but their club side, the Jaguares, have been in good form in Super Rugby over the last couple of months.

Surprisingly, Scotland have a good record in Argentina, their last defeat there coming in the first of the two Tests they played a decade ago in 2008.

It means that even senior players like Tim Swinson have not tasted defeat there and he has no intention of allowing that to change.

"All wins, no losses, but they are a good side," he said. "There was this tour four years ago and then the autumn one a few years ago. You’ve seen the Jaguares are having a really good season and a lot of their players are in the national side. They have a huge reputation around scrum time and forward play.

"If we have a bad weekend next weekend you could probably point to the USA game and say 'this is where it all went wrong'. If we have a good performance, it shows we can bounce back. We've got to take positives and learning points from it. They tend to happen more in a loss than a win."