Preview: England v Argentina

Date published: November 25 2016

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England will look to continue with their fine run of results when they host an unpredictable Argentina side at Twickenham on Saturday.

The home side head into this clash brimming with confidence as they are the only Tier 1 nation who are unbeaten in 2016.

Under the guidance of their head coach, Eddie Jones, England have put their woeful 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign on home soil to bed and gone on a remarkable 11-match winning streak.

After beating all and sundry in the Six Nations, the 2003 World Cup winners beat Wales in a warm-up match – ahead of their tour to Australia – and then claimed a 3-0 series win over the Wallabies.

They continued with their dominance during the Autumn series by notching impressive victories over South Africa and Fiji earlier this month.

Jones deserves plenty of credit as his transformation of the England team was done with the majority of the players who were in action at last year’s World Cup.

His decision to appoint Dylan Hartley was a shrewd move and the Northampton Saints hooker has done well in the leadership role while also impressing in his general play.

England’s forwards have a high level of physicality which looked particularly impressive in their win over the Springboks and the likes of Hartley, Tom Wood and the Vunipola brothers – Mako and Billy – will be determined to build on that effort against Argentina who are no slouches in that department.

They face an Argentina side who have delivered a mixed bag of results in 2016. Los Pumas were the darlings at last year’s Rugby World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals but they have not kicked on after their impressive performances at the global showpiece.

They have only won three out of 11 matches this year although included in that was an historic first ever triumph over the Springboks in Salta during the Rugby Championship.

They have won just once so far on their end-of-year tour, against Japan, before suffering narrow losses to Wales and Scotland. The latter result was an agonising one as Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw’s match-winning penalty was the final act of the match in his side’s 19-16 triumph.

Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade will be desperate for his team to finish 2016 off on a high but will have to deliver their best performance of the year if they want to beat this England side.

Much will depend on experienced players like captain Agustín Creevy and veteran playmaker Juan Martín Hernández while Facundo Isa is also expected to make a big impact from the bench.

Players to watch:

For England: The home side welcome back George Kruis who makes his first appearance during the end-of-year Tests after recovering from an ankle injury sustained last month. The 26-year-old has been one of the success stories and was part of England’s first-choice second row – along with Saracens team-mate Maro Itoje – throughout their victorious Grand Slam winning Six Nations campaign. Kruis has emerged as a line-out force for club and country and will be expected to dominate this facet of play.

For Argentina: There will be plenty of expectation on the shoulders of los Pumas’ fly-half Juan Martín Hernández. The 34-year-old usually plays at inside centre but is no stranger to the pivot position as he represented his country with distinction in that role before. Hernández has a vast array of skills and will be expected to unleash his dangerous outside backs in a bid to unlock England’s miserly defence.

Head to head: England number eight Billy Vunipola is one of world’s best players in his position but faces a canny adversary in Leonardo Senatore, who was a surprise inclusion – ahead of Facundo Isa – in los Pumas’ starting line-up. Vunipola’s ball carrying ability is well documented and he will be expected to give his side momentum with strong carries which will help to create spaces which his backs will hope to exploit. His counterpart will be hoping to make the most of this rare opportunity in the run-on side as Isa is sure to feature at some stage during the second half. Senatore’s poor discipline has been a weakness in the past but if he can control that aspect of his game, he should be of great value to the visitors.

Recent results:

2013: England won 31-12 in London
2013: England won 51-26 in Buenos Aires
2013: England won 32-2 in Salta
2011: England won 13-9 in Dunedin (RWC)
2009: England won 16-9 in London
2009: Argentina won 24-22 in Salta
2009: England won 37-15 in Manchester
2006: Argentina won 25-18 in London
2002: England won 26-18 in Beunos Aires
2000: England won 19-0 in London
1997: Argentina won 33-13 in Beunos Aires

Prediction: Although Argentina will deliver a competitive performance, they will not be able to end England’s unbeaten run. England to win by 15-18 points.

The teams:

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Teimana Harrison,, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Henry Slade

Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Facundo Isa, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles

Date: Saturday, November 26
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Ian Davies (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

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