London - England
launched their November international campaign with an unconvincing
21-8 victory over 2019 Rugby World Cup pool opponents Argentina at Twickenham
Nathan Hughes scored his first Test try and Semesa Rokoduguni also
crossed for England before Nicolas Sanchez went over late on for the
Pumas in an error-strewn match.
England's pack won the battle up front, with prop Mako Vunipola named man-of-the-match.
"Look it was a grindathon, wasn't it?," said England coach Eddie Jones. "They played well.
"We were off the pace a little bit," the Australian added after what
was England's first match since the British and Irish Lions drawn series
in New Zealand
"The reality is we haven't played a game since March together," Jones said.
"Our fluency and our understanding wasn't there, which is understandable.
"I thought it was a good win. At the 78th minute, 21-3 against a team
that at the 60-minute mark that was leading the All Blacks, so you
can't underestimate them."
This was England's fourth successive victory against Argentina in
just over a year, including a 2-0 series triumph in Argentina in June.
But England will surely need to go up a gear if they are to beat Australia at Twickenham a week on Saturday.
"Ball in hand, I think we need to get
into the right areas of the field and then treasure the ball," England
captain Dylan Hartley told Sky Sports.
For the Pumas, defeat continued a miserable 2017 that has seen them
record just one victory in 10 Tests - against Georgia in June.
"There were a few opportunities for both teams but England were able to take advantage," said Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade.
"They played a very tight game and in that game the team that is more
efficient wins and they were more efficient than us," Hourcade added.
England started with Henry Slade at inside centre and Sam Underhill
in the pack as Jones rested the Lions duo of Owen Farrell and Maro
Ford, taking over kicking duties from the absent Farrell, hit the
post with an early penalty effort from distance but was twice on target
from closer range either side of Emiliano Boffelli's eighth-minute
effort for the Pumas.
A key moment in the game came in the 22nd minute when Argentina wing
Joaquin Tuculet was sin-binned for taking out England fullback Mike
Brown in mid-air as the pair contested a high ball.
Brown - who has a history of concussion injuries - was replaced by Rokoduguni after landing awkwardly on his head.
England scored their first try soon afterwards when Ford's excellent
cut-out pass found No 8 Hughes wide on the right, with the back-row
charging over from close range.
Ford could not convert but England led 11-3.
Argentina flyhalf Juan
Martin Hernandez, preferred to Nicolas Sanchez by Hourcade, had chances
to close the gap shortly before the half-hour mark but missed two
kickable penalties - the veteran playmaker's second attempt pulled
horribly wide across the face of the posts from out right on the 22.
Instead, it was England who scored next.
Ford's clever chip ahead was regathered by halfback partner Ben
Youngs, who in turn passed to Slade only for the centre to be tackled
without the ball.
Ford landed the resulting penalty six minutes before half-time.
England threatened on the counter-attack after the break but passes
from Slade and Anthony Watson went astray at a rainswept Twickenham.
Argentina were unable to make the most of their possession, Boffelli
and replacement Sanchez both missed penalties while solid England
defence at a maul denied them a try.
England extended their lead thanks a try 14 minutes from time.
Replacement back Alex Lozowski surged into Argentina's 22 and, after
the ball was recycled, Slade's long pass put Rokoduguni in at the right
corner for a try eventually awarded by referee Marius van der Westhuizen
after checking for a forward pass.
Ford kicked a tough conversion but Argentina had the last word two
minutes from time when Sanchez crowned a 30-phase move with a try.
But it was too little too late for the Pumas, and Sanchez's conversion attempt rebounded off the post.
Tries: Nathan Hughes, Semesa Rokoduguni
Conversion: George Ford
Penalties: Ford (3)
Try: Nicolas Sanchez
Penalty: Emiliano Boffelli