England recovered from a six-point deficit to claim a vital 13-9 World Cup Pool victory over Argentina at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
England recovered from a six-point deficit to claim a vital 13-9 Rugby World Cup victory over Argentina at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
The Pumas will count themselves unlucky not to have done what they did to France four years ago after shelling 18 points due to wayward attempts from Felipe Contepomi and Martin Rodriguez.
However, Jonny Wilkinson was not much better from the kicking tee as England had to rely on Ben Youngs' second-half try for the matchday points.
What will make the defeat worse for Argentina is that they lost Contepomi and Gonzalo Tiesi to respective rib and knee injuries. We will see if they recover to feature in the Pool B run-in.
There is little doubt that the Pumas played the better of the two teams – which is impressive having had just one Test in 11 months. And they led 6-3 at the break thanks to a penalty each from Contepomi and Rodriguez. The former did not last the first-half though while Stade Francais team-mate Tiesi hobbled off soon after.
England were making life easier for Argentina during the first period by offending countless times at the breakdown, with referee Bryce Lawrence not taking long to lose his patience.
The official – after Wilkinson missed a seemingly easy penalty – sent prop Dan Cole to the sin-bin on 34 minutes for playing the ball on the floor, only for Rodriguez to miss again.
England needed the break to gain some perspective and ideas from their coaching staff yet it was the Pumas who were out of the blocks the quicker, as the English conceded another penalty which Rodriguez kicked to make it 9-3. England needed some magic.
But then came the turning point in the game as Martin Johnson threw on Youngs for Richard Wigglesworth and he soon spotted a gap from close-range to knock the stuffing out of the Pumas. From there, they never recovered as Wilkinson added another three to seal victory.
Man of the match: I'm afraid we have gone for a player on the losing side. Only lock Courtney Lawes really threw his weight around in the tackle for England while Mario Ledesma and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe were strong.
Moment of the match: England desperately need to some bite and Ben Youngs brought the pace and go-forward they required when he came on. His try was crucial in turning the game on its head – he saw the gap and backed himself.
Villain of the match: If we have to hand this out, Dan Cole was the one shown the yellow card for a repeated team offences but England on the whole showed very little in the first-half. Tad harsh but we're going for Martin Rodriguez, who missed fifteen points.
Pen: Contepomi, Rodriguez 2
Pen: Wilkinson 2
Argentina: 15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Gonzalo Camacho, 10 Felipe Contepomi, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Martin Scelzo, 18 Mariano Galarza, 19 Alejandro Campos, 20 Alfredo Lalanne, 21 Marcelo Bosch, 22 Juan Jose Imhoff.
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mike Tindall (c), 11 Delon Armitage, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Nick Easter, 7 James Haskell, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Ben Youngs, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Matt Banahan.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)