England all but secured their place in the World Cup quarter-finals by claiming a 39-10 bonus-point win over a 14-man Argentina side in Tokyo on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The major talking point around this match will undoubtedly be Tomas Lavanini’s red card. The big lock was sent off after the opening 20 minutes for a head-high shoulder tackle on Owen Farrell, with the game still very much in the balance.
While there may have been a slight mitigating factor in that Farrell ducked into the tackle, there cannot be any doubt that it was the correct decision from referee Nigel Owens as Lavanini never started the tackle in the correct position and wrapped his arms around Farrell as an afterthought.
This will prompt debate around whether a player who has been red-carded should be replaced after a certain period of time. It is a law that has been trialled at a lower level to ensure the punishment does not ruin the game as a contest.
Up until that stage, Argentina were well in the match and took an early lead through a penalty. However, it is quite clear that the non-stop rugby played by this team since the start of Super Rugby has backfired. Los Pumas looked absolutely shattered and simply could not match England’s energy on attack or defence.
It was very much job done for England and they collected all five points to become the first team to go through to the quarter-finals, even if it was through an error-strewn display. There is a championship quality about Eddie Jones’ side in that they always find a way to win, even when they aren’t playing all that well.
The game was deadlocked at 5-3 for much of the first half before fullback Elliot Daly, who was England’s bright spark throughout the match, and scrumhalf Ben Youngs scored a try each just before half time to take them into a 15-3 lead at the break.
The second half was very much a case of England gunning for the bonus point, which they secured through George Ford’s try, and Argentina trying to break down a stubborn defence. Argentina gave themselves hope when Matias Moroni went over for a deserved try in the last 10 minutes, but that was soon crushed as Jack Nowell came off the bench to seal England’s win.
England – Tries: Jonny May, Elliot Daly, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Jack Nowell, Luke Cowan-Dickie. Conversions: Owen Farrell (3). Penalty: Farrell.
Argentina – Try: Matias Moroni. Conversion: Emiliano Boffelli. Penalty: Benjamin Urdapilleta.
England – 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler.
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell.
Argentina – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Lucas Mensa, 23 Bautista Delguy.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images