England hang on against Argentina to claim bronze at Rugby World Cup

Planet Rugby
England players have team photo after Rugby World Cup Bronze Final.

England players have team photo after Rugby World Cup Bronze Final.

England ended their 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign on a positive note as they edged out Argentina 26-23 to win the Bronze Final in Paris on Friday.

Tries from Ben Earl and Theo Dan were added to by 16 points from captain Owen Farrell off the tee as the Red Rose signed off in France with a victory.

Argentina will no doubt be reeling after coming so close, however, as they dominated the majority of the game but could not get the job done late on.

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England have now finished in the World Cup’s top three on five occasions, with only Saturday’s finalists, New Zealand and South Africa managing more podium appearances.

Argentina were roared on by the neutrals in a 77,674 crowd, and with only pockets of Red Rose supporters present, it was the most partisan atmosphere Steve Borthwick’s side have faced at the World Cup.

Farrell was booed repeatedly, and Ben Youngs drew the same reaction when he jogged off with half an hour left, even though the nation’s most capped player was making his 127th and final appearance.

The evening was not much fun for Henry Arundell, who ran in five tries against Chile yet was passed the ball only once here, reducing one of England’s most dangerous runners to the role of bystander until he was withdrawn with 15 minutes left.

Having produced among the worst semi-final appearances in World Cup history against New Zealand, Argentina were far hungrier as they looked to emulate their previous best tournament performance of third place in 2007.

It was the Pumas side who edged Wales in the last eight that ultimately turned up at the Stade de France, although it took them time to get going.

England initially picked up where they had left off in Marseille by scoring freely, a short pass from Marcus Smith slipping Earl through a gap, and there was no stopping the number eight from 15 metres out.

It was part of a bright start by England, who kicked intelligently and were accurate in everything they did, enabling them to build a 13-0 lead when Farrell added two penalties.

Argentina were already on the ropes, but they took heart from making headway through the white defence until they were sent hurtling backwards at a scrum in front of the posts.

Emiliano Boffelli got the Pumas off the mark with a penalty, but it was all they had to show for period of ascendency, their prospects not helped by two knock-ons at key times.

England’s own play had become more ragged, and when Farrell kicked away possession and a penalty was conceded, Argentina went on the rampage with a sweeping attack that ended when Tomas Cubelli went over.

The officials declined to check for an obvious forward pass during the move, but there was nothing controversial about the Pumas’ second try when Dan missed a tackle that allowed Santiago Carreras to glide into space and finish with class.

Dan’s redemption was instant as from the restart, he changed down Carreras’ clearance, gathered the ball and scored.

As chants of “Argentina, Argentina” sounded around the Stade de France and the Pumas vigorously celebrated winning a penalty, there was a sense of occasion of the match even if the play was stop-start and often ugly.

Farrell and Nicolas Sanchez traded penalties, and with neither side able to seize control of the game, an edgy climax approached.

Sanchez missed a tricky penalty, and England were not troubled again, closing out the match in the right half of the pitch.

The teams

Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Pedro Rubiolo, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matías Moroni

England: 15 Marcus Smith, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Henry Arundell, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Theo Dan, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Dan Cole, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Ollie Lawrence

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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