Friday 9 December 2016

England deliver despite dismissals

England 27 Argentina 14

Paul Rees

Published 27/11/2016 | 02:30

Jonny May celebrates scoring England's second try. Photo: Getty
Jonny May celebrates scoring England's second try. Photo: Getty

England played for all but four minutes with 14 men after Elliot Daly's dismissal for a dangerous tackle, but held on to record their 13th consecutive victory.

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Of greater concern than the wing's ban for the final match in the autumn series against Australia next weekend was the knee injury suffered by the No8 Billy Vunipola at the end of the opening half.

Elliot Daly of England is shown a red card. Photo: Getty
Elliot Daly of England is shown a red card. Photo: Getty

Daly became the first England player to be sent off since Lewis Moody against Samoa 11 years earlier to the day when he tackled the No8 Leonardo Senatore in the air and left him to fall to the ground head first.

It was hard to tell for most of the first half that England were a player short, Chris Robshaw leading by example even though he is no longer captain. Argentina, weary after six months of travelling, looked jet-lagged and were 16-0 down as the opening half entered its final two minutes. Their indiscipline presented Owen Farrell with four penalty attempts in 27 minutes, the first three of which were turned into points

Daly's dismissal gave England's defence a workout. They held out until the last play of the half, one that took five minutes to play out as a series of scrums ended in penalties or resets, having by then extended their lead with a penalty try.

While England managed to overcome the loss of a wing, Vunipola's departure presented a greater problem. Nathan Hughes's foot injury left them without a ball-carrier on the bench and they had three flankers in the back row and no one to make dents.

England's Jonny May celebrates with team mates after he scored his sides second try. Photo: Getty
England's Jonny May celebrates with team mates after he scored his sides second try. Photo: Getty

After Vunipola's exit, Argentina had a series of scrums that England's full pack struggled to contain. After four penalties, the referee sent Dan Cole to the sin-bin and the Pumas eventually exploited their two-man advantage when Facundo Isa forced his way over from a scrum. So much time had been consumed by the series of scrums that although Cole received his yellow card after the countdown clock had reached zero, he was back on the field six minutes after the restart.

England's lead had by then shrunk to two points. Argentina ran from their own 22 from the kick-off, Juan Martin Hernández, Matías Moroni, Santiago Cordero, Juan Pablo Estelles, Jeronimo de la Fuente and Tomas Cubelli combining fluently for Cordero to score.

It was a reminder of Argentina's potency but for the most part their running game malfunctioned.

Cordero's try should have been the springboard for Argentina's second victory here, but England dominated the rest of the half after Cole returned.

Farrell's fourth penalty extended their lead to five points and in between two misses he landed his fifth. By then even Argentina's scrum had started to disintegrate and it was left to Jonny May, recalled to the side in place of Semesa Rokoduguni, to apply the coup de grace after a slick passing movement started by George Ford.

Sunday Indo Sport

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