England 31 Argentina 12 match report: Chris Ashton and co ensure the England chariot remains on a roll - but the All Blacks await

Stuart Lancaster’s side make it two wins from two autumn Tests but the world champions will offer a much tougher challenge next Saturday

Twickenham

There are holes in England’s game, as everyone knows, and it is unlikely they will be plugged completely in the next seven days leading up to the concluding autumn international against New Zealand but Chris Robshaw was quite right in describing the week to come before his team faces the world champions as “exciting”.

The England captain was his usual workaholic self in a four-try win over an understrength Argentina and a final-whistle chorus of “ Sweet Chariot” suggested the Twickenham crowd too were readying themselves contentedly for the bigger challenge to come.

Chris Ashton ended a tryless drought of five Tests with his 18th score for England but he still looks a fish out of water on the fringes of defence and uncertain of himself making his ball-tracking raids in attack. The England midfield is far from perfect but will probably stay intact to face the All Blacks. In the forwards the bite of Courtney Lawes’s stunning tackling combined with a scrum that can hold its own give England hope.

Lawes’s fellow second-row Joe Launchbury got England going and followed the suit of Robshaw and Owen Farrell in the previous week’s 20-13 win over Australia by notching his first Test try, finishing off a line-out drive set up by Lawes’s catch and Robshaw’s control in the van. This came from penalties kicked to touch by England, clearly confident from the off they had the measure of a Pumas team playing their first match under new coach Daniel Hourcade and sadly accustomed to losing after being beaten twice at home by England in the summer and in all their subsequent Rugby Championship matches.

Towards the end of the first quarter it was 10-6, with Farrell’s conversion and a penalty to a penalty apiece for Argentina’s Nicolas Sanchez and Marcelo Bosch.

The visitors had 13 starters based with English and French clubs but Ashton knows Twickenham better than any of them even if it does not always appear that way. A try chance went begging after 19 minutes when the Saracens wing, who might have lost his place if Christian Wade or Marland Yarde had been fit, stepped inside the full-back Lucas Amorisino but had his ankle clipped and was held by up Juan Imhoff.

There was a muddle, too, when Ashton ran a wraparound off a scrum in the Argentina 22, but this at least led to England’s second try, in the 21st minute, when Ashton picked Farrell’s pop pass off the deck to feed Billy Twelvetrees who made it much too easily past a clutch of Puma tackles to score, with Farrell converting.The move also included a decoy run by Twelvetrees’ fellow centre Joel Tomkins. The feeling is Billy and Joel are not the ideal combination to start a fire for England’s outside backs but, while Manu Tuilagi is out with a torn chest muscle, this seems the likely duo to face the Blacks.

 

England's scrum half Lee Dickson prepares to catch the opening kickoff of the game against Argentina England's scrum half Lee Dickson prepares to catch the opening kickoff of the game against Argentina  

Ashton, to his relief, picked the right line after 33 minutes, scoring at the right-hand corner as Farrell exploited a short-side gap left by Argentina following another line-out. There was one first-half scrum featuring a threatening Argentina shove – testing an England front row that had been changed en masse from the Australia match, and in which Dylan Hartley could not have put his case for selection more forcefully – but unless they were going to push the men in white back 75 metres it could only be of limited usefulness.

Bosch missed a desperate penalty attempt from halfway and England led 24-6 at the interval. Five minutes into the second half the search for any kind of foothold was still the key as Sanchez chipped over a penalty from the 22m line and another from 40m in the 56th minute.

What can be said about England’s midfield and other areas of defence is they kept the Pumas in their own cattery for almost the entire 80 minutes. Tomkins did his bit in this regard. A procession of England substitutes came on to protect probable starters for next week; errors crept in. The two were not wholly connected. One gaffe was Farrell overdoing yet another penalty to touch, ruining a good position.

Another was when Lawes’s replacement Geoff Parling caught a line-out, but as Toby Flood, on for Twelvetrees, tried a pirouette towards the posts England lost the ball after the tackle. Farrell also had his first miss from the kicking tee, hitting a post from long range. Tom  Wood fell foul of the referee a few times in the post-tackle contest.

But when a rare threat occurred in the home 22, England’s scrum forced a penalty out of the Pumas.

When another fresh face, Ben Morgan, battered through a thicket of tired tackles for England’s fourth try, converted by Flood, the singing started. Two out of two this autumn isn’t bad.

Room for improvement

This was Twickenham, not Utopia, as England's head coach Stuart Lancaster readily conceded, despite his team making it nine wins in 10 matches, and two out of two in their autumn programme.

"Every international team is looking for that complete 80-minute performance," Lancaster said after his team suffered a worrying dip in performance in the second half of the 31-12 win over Argentina. "You often see it from New Zealand, the top team, but that's what we're striving to get. And we know that we've got to improve in certain areas before we face them next week. We know that to win a World Cup you have to got to build a squad, not just a team. But the priority for us is to select the best team to win next week."

Lancaster's backs coach Andy Farrell said: "Argentina were hanging on by the skin of their teeth, we took the legs out of them in the first half. After that we lacked a bit of patience but there aren't many teams who have mauled Argentina like we did for Joe Launchbury's try. The confidence we got from beating Australia last week and in the first half this time will be massive for our forward pack to take into the New Zealand game."

Hugh Godwin

Scorers

England

Tries; Launchbury, Twelvetrees, Ashton, Morgan

Cons; Farrell (3), Flood.

Pens;Farrell

Argentina

Pens; Sanchez (4)

 

 

 

Get Adobe Flash player
News
people
Sport
Yaya Sanogo celebrates scoring the opening goal with Arsenal's English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
champions leagueLive: All the latest from the Emirates and Bulgaria, where Liverpool face Ludogorets
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire