Below par Eng­land down Pu­mas


LON­DON: Eng­land got their Novem­ber in­ter­na­tional se­ries off to a vic­to­ri­ous but hardly glo­ri­ous start yes­ter­day when they forced their way past Ar­gentina 21-8 at Twick­en­ham in a stut­ter­ing game with barely any flow­ing rugby.

Ar­gentina came into the match hav­ing won only one game all year –against Ge­or­gia – and, not helped by miss­ing five of six goal­kicks, they never looked re­motely like avoid­ing a fourth loss in 13 months to Eng­land, who they will meet again in the pool stage of the 2019 World Cup.

Eng­land led 14-3 at the break with a try by num­ber eight Nathan Hughes and, though Semesa Roko­duguni added a sec­ond af­ter 67 min­utes, in­stead of a late flurry of home points, Ar­gentina fin­ished on top and scored their only try through Ni­co­las Sanchez.

Ar­gentina had won only five games in the 24 since reach­ing the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-fi­nals and for the first time they lost all six Rugby Cham­pi­onship games and did not even muster a bonus point.

So Eng­land, with 19 wins out of 20 un­der Ed­die Jones, ex­pected a straight­for­ward win to warm up for next week’s per­ceived stiffer chal­lenge against Aus­tralia. How­ever, they were slow out of the blocks and strug­gled to gain any real mo­men­tum in a first half punc­tu­ated by penal­ties, in­clud­ing a harsh red card for Puma full­back Joaquin Tu­culet.

His ac­ci­den­tal mid-air col­li­sion with Mike Brown ended his op­po­site num­ber’s day af­ter 22 min­utes, giv­ing Jones a for­tu­itous chance to have a look at An­thony Wat­son at 15.

He failed to shine there though, as did Henry Slade at 13, with only tough-tack­ling open­side Sam Un­der­hill re­ally ad­vanc­ing his cause.

The only try of the first half was cre­ated by a flash­ing Ge­orge Ford pass that sent Hughes over the line.

Ford, tak­ing the kicks in the ab­sence of the rested Owen Far­rell, missed two of his five, while Juan Martin Her­nan­dez also missed two as Eng­land led 14-3 at the break.

The stop-start na­ture of the game con­tin­ued in the sec­ond half, with pre­cious lit­tle to lift the crowd, with Jones seen smash­ing his desk in frus­tra­tion. Slade’s long pass even­tu­ally sent Roko­duguni over in the cor­ner be­fore Sanchez crossed for Ar­gentina late in the game. – Reuters

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