England 39-10 Argentina: Talking points as England book a quarterfinal spot
In what was the first stern test for Eddie Jones’ England, they overcame 14-man Argentina to book their place in the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
A 39-10 scoreline, in England’s favor, suggests a domination, but the game was closer than that.
Los Pumas, in fact, were the first to put points up with Benjamin Urdapiletta scoring a penalty.
The English responded via star man Jonny May who combined with Ben Youngs for the first try of the game. England created space from a ruck close to Argentina’s try zone and fly-half George Ford expertly exploited that space by sending it in to Youngs. May, who was on an overlapping run, picked up the spoils for a simple try.
England, however, only had a two-point lead as Owen Farrell missed the conversion.
Farrell would be the center of attention again, in the 18th minute, as he was subject to a high tackle by Tomas Lavanini. TMO review showed that Lavanini’s attempted tackle caught Farrell on the head and the Argentine was duly given his marching orders. Farrell, victim of an illegal tackle for a second game in succession, missed the subsequent penalty.
Los Pumas, despite being a man down, held the English off valiantly for 19 minutes before the inevitable try was scored.
The English racked up three tries in the first half – May (9th minute), Elliot Daly (36th minute) and Youngs (41 + 1 minute) – to go up 15-3. Farrell, incredibly, missed four of four kicks (one penalty and three conversions).
Four minutes into the second half and England picked up a bonus point via Ford’s try. Like the previous tries, England again had Argentina pinned close to the latter’s try zone before scoring.
While England might have scored more tries, Argentina’s effort was the most aesthetically pleasing of the night.
Los Pumas struck from a lineout in the 70th minute with Matias Moroni providing the flourish to a superb move.
While lineouts are followed by some strong jostling, Argentina quickened things up with Thomas Lezana finding Filipe Ezcurra in a second. The latter started the move which resulted in Santiago Carreras breaking England’s line and finding Moroni for the finish.
With this win, England are through to the quarterfinals, improving on their horror tournament on home soil, four years ago.
Argentina’s lack of composure costs them again
With the score at 23-21 in favor of France, Argentina had a penalty kick in the 78th minute. A golden opportunity to seal the win.
Emiliano Boffelli smacked the ball which remained in the air for eternity, if you’re an Argentine fan that is. What should have been three points for Argentina turned into nothing as Boffelli’s effort was off the mark.
France ended up winning 23-21. Had Boffelli maintained his composure and converted, things would have been different.
The same can be said for this game, considering how well Argentina played with 15 men.
Lavanini’s rashness, however, changed the course completely.
While Los Pumas held out for a solid 19 minutes, a loss was on the cards for the 14 on the field. Gaps opened up and the constant bombardment from England fatigued the Argentines.
I’m not saying that 15 men would have defeated England. Would they have stood a better chance in the game, however? For sure.
England are ruthless near the try zone
Jones’ cohorts in possession near an opponent’s try zone are a formidable bunch.
With Ford’s awareness and the mix of receiving options ranging from the quick May to man-mountain Billy Vunipola, England’s offense is one for all seasons.
It was evident in this game as England’s dual punch of physicality and wide passes paved the way for their scoring.
The opening tries were scored in the above manner with May and Daly being the beneficiaries. Ford did well to capitalize on a small gap for his try before England overpowered the tired Argentines.
Sure, the numbers game did catch up with Argentina but England have showed great scoring instinct in the dangerous areas. This will be one aspect to watch out for when they meet France next week.
A first half to forget for Owen Farrell
Farrell is the poster boy for England in this World Cup.
No player had scored more points than him in international rugby since 2018.
Yesterday, however, Farrell’s kicking boots had gone missing in the first half.
The Saracens star had four opportunities – three conversions and a penalty. He missed them all.
He was also on the receiving end of a sickening tackle from Lavanini. The Argentine was, unsurprisingly, sent off for the transgression.
Why there was no head-injury assessment for Farrell, however, is something that should be seriously looked into by World Rugby.
Farrell was back into his groove in the second half. He was successful on three conversion attempts and a penalty.
Four from four missed in the first and then four from four scored in the second. Perfectly balanced, as Thanos would say, I guess.
Cover image credits: The Independent