England ground out a 21-8 win against Argentina at Twickenham on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
England’s 20th win in 21 matches under Eddie Jones was one of their least impressive, but that won’t concern their coach too much. This was England’s first outing since June and their first at full-strength since March when they won the Six Nations. You would expect them to be better against the Wallabies next weekend having shaken off the rust.
This contest was a stop-start affair and while the hosts never looked like losing, they were unable to blow away a Pumas team that lost all six of their games in the recent Rugby Championship.
Two penalties from George Ford gave England an early 6-3 lead, with Emiliano Boffelli getting the Pumas on the board.
The visitors were reduced to 14 men in the 22nd minute when Joaquín Tuculet was yellow-carded for making contact with Mike Brown in the air. Brown was forced to leave the field, replaced by Fijian Semesa Rokoduguni.
It didn’t take England long to make their one-man advantage count. After a nine-phase attack, Ford’s long pass found Nathan Hughes on the right wing, and the No 8 powered over in the corner.
The Pumas should have added to their tally while Tuculet was off, but Juan Martín Hernández missed two penalty goal attempts.
No sooner had Argentina been restored to 15 men than Ford slotted his third penalty to make it 14-3 at the break.
England would have wanted to lift the intensity in the second half, but the Pumas continued to frustrate them. The hosts twice kicked for the corner to set up lineout driving mauls from 5m out, but came away with nothing to show for their efforts.
The Pumas’ goal-kicking woes continued when replacement Nicolás Sánchez missed his first shot at goal. Shortly after, Alex Lozowski broke away for England and another long pass from Ford, which looked to have drifted forward, saw Rokoduguni score in the right-hand corner.
Argentina finished strongly, though, with a 29-phase attack resulting in a consolation try for Sánchez.
England – Try: Nathan Hughes, Semesa Rokoduguni. Conversion: George Ford. Penalties: Ford (3).
Argentina – Try: Nicolás Sánchez. Penalty: Emiliano Boffelli.
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis,4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (2), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Danny Care, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.
Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Benjamin Macome, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Sebastian Cancellere.
Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images