George Ford orchestrates ‘night to remember’ in England’s opening World Cup win

Ford emerged as the architect of the Pumas’ death by a thousand cuts by kicking six penalties and three drop-goals.

Duncan Bech
Sunday 10 September 2023 00:26 BST
England’s George Ford scores a penalty during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool D match at the Stade de Marseille (Mike Egerton/PA)
England’s George Ford scores a penalty during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool D match at the Stade de Marseille (Mike Egerton/PA)

Steve Borthwick insists England are determined to deliver more triumphant nights at the World Cup after George Ford kicked them to a stunning 27-10 victory over Argentina in Marseille.

England defied the third minute red card shown to Tom Curry for a dangerous challenge to put one foot in the knockout phase at the expense of their closest rivals in Pool D.

Ford emerged as the architect of the Pumas’ death by a thousand cuts by kicking six penalties and three drop-goals, as well as providing the generalship needed to overcome Curry’s absence.

“I’m really pleased for the supporters around that stadium too – they were absolutely magnificent,” head coach Borthwick said.

“There are tens of thousands of England supporters in France and they are going to follow us around and spend a lot of money to do that.

“We want to make sure they have nights to remember and I think they’ll remember this one.

“All the people back home in their living rooms on their sofas and in the pubs, I hope they had a good night. We hope they’ll have another good night against Japan next Sunday.”

There were heroes across the field and none more so than Ford, who provided the leadership as England threatened to be engulfed by the crisis presented by a fourth red card in six Tests.

The fightback was given impetus through Ford’s early drop-goals and the Sale fly-half believes they can make a difference over the coming weeks.

“It’s a great weapon for us. We know how important and big drop-goals can be at World Cups,” Ford said.

“Just the way the game unfolded, we went a man down quite early but it was greasy, it was difficult to hold the ball for many phases.

“In our heads we wanted to be clinical in terms of coming away with points when we had good field position. But it’s incredibly hard to attack when they’ve got a lot of numbers in the line.”

Argentina boss Michael Cheika admitted it was a frustrating evening for his Pumas, who were shambolic for most of the match.

“Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We let the play get too stop-start. England played the circumstances very well and full credit to them,” Cheika said.

“There was almost no play. There were so many stoppages. The play we did get we didn’t master very well. That was by design by the other team. They did it very well.

“They put us in that corner. We’ll take what we need from it and get on with the next game.”

“The World Cup is not over. We still have work to do to qualify. Our players will take a lot from this experience.”

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