» Old Richian Underhill praised for England display
ENGLAND’S march to World Cup glory became another game closer with a comfortable victory over Argentina.
Of course their task was made all the easier when Pumas lock Tomas Levanini was sent off the field after a high shot on England captain Owen Farrell who must be thinking he is a targeted man as this was the second time he has been on the end of a reckless tackle taking the full force square on the chin. If Farrell ever wants to change his profession, he would make a great boxer with the chin he has. Unbelievably there are some pundit/ supporters who suggested that Levanini was hard done by. The South Americans were pumped up for this game but aggression and enthusiasm must be controlled.
I am all for putting a shot on an opposing player, but it must be legal. It is no coincidence that England coach Eddie Jones first choice flankers, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, are chop tackle experts, getting the opponent to the ground quickly allowing the incoming defender to challenge for the ball before anything is set up. Sam Underhill had a great game. The former Longlevens product was a class at openside, making multiple tackles and carrying well; he was a bundle of energy putting pressure on the Argentinian attack.
The best flanker I had the pleasure of playing against is now England team manager Richard Hill, who mentored Underhill in his fledgling international years.
He must have been very pleased with his performance.
The result has guaranteed England a quarter final place, with three wins and maximum points, and it seemed very few players going in to the treatment room - so different from their last World Cup campaign on English soil in 2015. This the exact position Jones must have dreamt about in being ahead in the tournament Crucial decisions must now be made, starting with selection for their final pool game against France.
The men from over the channel have now flattered to deceive for far too long.
They are not a great side and do not have the ability to control a game, something that does not allow them to beat the top sides in international rugby.
Tonga should have beaten France but just lacked that composure at the vital time.
No side who has gone on to win the World Cup has lost a group stage game, showing momentum is key in tournament rugby.
Jones will give starts to Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola. These two British Lions will bring renewed energy to the team on the pitch, and at the same time gain valuable game time which will be required as England enters the knockout stages of the tournament.
I am massive fan of Nowell - he is always looking for work, quick, powerful, fast feet, and knows his way to the try line.
If he plays well in Saturday’s game, he will heap massive pressure onto Jonny May, and Anthony Watson.
Mako’s come back is perfectly timed with Joe Marler limping off against Argentina.
Vunipola brings a dimension to the English forwards something Marler does not possess.
He carries with great skill, with a wonderful off load, as does England’s tight head Kyle Sinckler.
Having props who can give that deft off load to open the tightest defence can be game defining when playing the southern hemisphere juggernauts.
I expect England to beat the French by 20 points, entering the knock stages with momentum, confidence and most of all belief.
Watching the World Cup is a great experience, from seeing the Haka, the second tier nations playing the big boys, watching the different styles of play, the bull dog pack of the English, the pace and skill of the blacks, the sheer physical power of the South Africans, the unpredictably of the south sea islanders, the Japanese public supporting different nations, the colour, and noise.
It all adds up to be a great spectacle. The one side I do love to watch is the host nation.
Japan plays with such pace, skill, and the required power.
Their winger Kotaro Matsushima, the South African born flyer who qualifies through a Japanese mother, has been in amazing.
They have made it very uncomfortable for the men in tartan who have it all to do to reach the knock out stages, for a second tier nation and being the hosts it will be an incredible achievement, and make this World Cup one of the best ever.
Jack Nowell could put pressure on Jonny May and Antony Watson