|2019 World Cup: England v Argentina|
|England: (15) 39|
|Tries: May, Daly, Youngs, Ford, Nowell, Cowan-Dickie Pens: Farrell Cons: Farrell 3|
|Argentina: (3) 10|
|Tries: Moroni Pens: Urdapilleta Cons: Boffelli|
|Red card: Lavanini|
England ran in six tries against the 14 men of Argentina to make it three bonus-point wins from three and guarantee themselves a place in the World Cup quarter-finals.
With Tomas Lavanini sent off early for an illegal tackle on England captain Owen Farrell, Eddie Jones’ side cut loose and first-half tries from Jonny May, Elliot Daly and Ben Youngs established a 12-point lead.
George Ford, Luke Cowan-Dickie and the returning Jack Nowell added further tries during a more subdued second half in sweltering conditions in the Japanese capital Tokyo.
The defeat puts the Pumas – semi-finalists in two of the past three World Cups – out of the tournament at the group stage for the first time in 16 years.
But England rumble on, building on the displays against Tonga and the USA, and know victory against France in a week’s time will set up a likely quarter-final against Australia.
They were far from flawless once again yet are moving towards where head coach Jones would want them to be, three weeks into a campaign that will surely become far more challenging in the coming matches.
Red mist costs Argentina as England cash in
England had not been behind in this tournament but after Matias Moroni ran on to Urdapilleta’s cross-kick and kicked on again, only May’s pace got him to the loose ball first to save the try.
From the subsequent five-metre scrum England were penalised and Urdapilleta landed the three points – yet England struck back moments later.
After an initial counter-attack down the right through Daly and Anthony Watson, they drove off a line-out to within a few metres, and with the Pumas defence committed fly-half Ford went left to May for the winger to accelerate into the corner.
It was a frenetic start, and the decisive incident stemmed from all that passion and energy spilling over.
As Youngs tapped a quick penalty and fed Farrell, Lavanini thumped into him at pace, his left shoulder crashing on to the head of the inside-centre.
Argentina had promised a war, but this was a clear illegal assault under the game’s revised tackling protocols and referee Nigel Owens had no option but to reach for the red card.
Farrell hooked the subsequent long-range penalty, but England began to look for width to work and tire the 14 men.
Daly broke down the left to send May deep into the opposition 22, Manu Tuilagi charged on after the ball was worked right and after a series of forward drives to within half a metre Ford sent it out wide left to Daly again, who juggled the ball before accelerating past Emiliano Boffelli and over the line.
And with the half-time gong having sounded, England showed an impressive ruthlessness once more – Youngs diving over from three metres after his team went through 20 phases.
Only the inaccuracy of Farrell’s place-kicking kept Argentina anywhere close, with all three conversions missed in addition to that penalty to keep England’s lead down to 15-3.
Nowell makes ideal return to add to Jones’ options
Billy Vunipola had received treatment on his ankle in the first half, and Jones took no risks with the only number eight in his squad by throwing on Lewis Ludlum in his place.
Ludlum, nowhere near the team six months ago, added even more dynamism to the impressive back-row performances of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.
Ford was the next to capitalise on all that quick ball and flagging defence, Tuilagi taking three defenders with him before his Leicester team-mate spotted a gap from close in to crash over.
This time, Farrell did add the extras but he continued to look shaken at times, although while Jones brought on Willie Heinz for Youngs plus Mako Vunipola and Nowell for their first taste of action in this World Cup, he left his talisman on the pitch.
The expected deluge of points failed to materialise as the pace and punch went out of the contest, and Argentina dug in to prevent humiliation.
And it was the Pumas who struck next, running a switch off quick line-out ball to put Santiago Carreras away on first-phase ball to find Moroni on his right and under the posts.
Nowell ensured England ended on a high as he bounced off three blue-and-white shirts to dive into the right-hand corner, before Cowan-Dickie profited from another driving maul in the dying seconds.
Man of the match: George Ford
We were a bit rusty – Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones: “We’re exactly where we wanted to be – we’re 15 points after three games. We’ve played in front of a fantastic crowd at Tokyo Stadium and it’s another great day for the World Cup.
“We just need to simplify our game a little bit. With them having one off we were probably just trying to push the game a little bit too much and were a bit rusty after two easy games and a long break and that came out a bit. Second half we got a bit of a better rhythm.”
England fly-half George Ford: “We are happy with the result. As always, there are areas we can improve, but that is the exciting thing because we can get better.
“We probably lost our way a little bit in terms of building pressure, but I thought we got it back at the start of the second half and we finished well.”
Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma: “Obviously after the red card it became really hard. We made many easy mistakes that we could have avoided, especially in the second half. We couldn’t build momentum with a guy less.
“The commitment of the boys was incredible and lasted the whole game. They never stopped fighting.”
England World Cup winner Matt Dawson on BBC Radio 5 Live
This is about progress for England. England are finding their feet. They are progressing from week to week and are looking more assured. They do not want to be peaking against Argentina or France. They want to be peaking in the knockout stages.
Players we were hoping were going to come in – Slade, Mako Vunipola, Nowell – they looked comfortable. If they get a start versus France, all of a sudden we’re talking about a full squad who look at home playing at the top level. You can’t ask for anything more from this England squad at the moment.
- England have won all three of their World Cup matches against Argentina – before Saturday, they had triumphed 24-18 in 1995 and 13-9 in 2011.
- Argentina have failed to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time since 2003.
- England have scored 27 tries and conceded just two in their past four World Cup games, crossing for four or more tries in each – something they had never managed in more than two consecutive matches before this run.
- Argentina’s Lavanini was shown the fifth red card of this year’s tournament, the most in a World Cup.
- Cowan-Dickie has scored a try in each of his three World Cup games, only Will Greenwood has scored in more consecutive games at the tournament for England (four in 2003).
- Agustin Creevy made his 88th appearance for Argentina, overtaking Felipe Contepomi as his country’s most-capped player. Meanwhile, Dan Cole and Ben Youngs won their 91st caps, becoming England’s third most-capped players.
- Youngs scored his third World Cup try and his first since 2011.
- Farrell missed four kicks at goal, his joint most in a game for England.
- May has scored 15 tries since the beginning of 2018, more than any other player in Test rugby in that time.
England: Daly; Watson, Tuilagi, Farrell, May; Ford, B Youngs; Marler, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Cole, Lawes, Ludlam, Heinz, Slade, Nowell.
Argentina: Boffelli; Moroni, Orlando, De La Fuente, Carreras; Urdapilleta, Cubelli; Chaparro, Montoya, Figallo, Pagadizabal, Lavanini, Matera, Kremer, Desio.
Replacements: Creevy, Vivas, Medrano, Alemanno, Lezana, Ezcurra, Mensa, Delguy.