Much has been written and many moans have been had about this first Autumn International match for England. They faced Argentina, a team no longer considered an Autumn whipping boy.
Eddie Jones had said that he wouldn’t use the players who featured in the Lions tour and he kept his word as far as 2 of them were concerned Owen Farrell and Mark Itoje were left out of the match day squad.
With one man missing another gets his chance and Sam Underhill, now plying his trade at Bath and Henry Slade took their places in the starting XV.
With George Ford back at Leicester Tigers, he started the match with his week in week out scrum half partner Ben Youngs, that partnership can only benefit the national team, as Eddie is a great admirer of Ford’s abilities the 10 shirt seems to be his for the foreseeable future. Youngs at 28 is younger than I thought he’d be with the number f years he’s been in the top flight, Danny Care at nearly 31 has a few years on him and I do feel that 9 is one of those positions where England need to be seeing the next big thing soon.
I had a great view of the game, I had a seat in L1, seat 312 right next to seat 99, go figure! It was next to a wall so I had no one walking past me to buy beer during the match which for me was a total result, I do get very frustrated with that at Twickenham.
So, I had a great view, of a not terribly good game. There were new partnerships in the England team and Henry Slade, a very good rugby player didn’t have the best day at Inside Centre, a tough call when he’s generally an Outside Centre, I hope he gets another chance.
England were disrupted early in the game when Mike Brown challenged for a high ball, Joaquin Tuculet didn’t get as high with the end result being a horrible fall for Brown. he landed on his head, heavily and in a very awkward way. Tuculet was shown a yellow card, which I felt was harsh as his eyes were on the ball. However if the referee did feel that he impinged, Brown landing on his head meant the card should have been red, according to Law 10.4. It’s worth noting that Tuculet hasn’t been cited post match.
Challenging players in the air – Law 10.4 (i)
The options given to referees when the law was reviewed were:
Play on – Fair challenge with both players in a realistic position to catch the ball. Even if the player(s) land(s) dangerously, play on
Penalty only – Fair challenge with wrong timing – No pulling down
Yellow card – Not a fair challenge, there is no contest and the player is pulled down landing on his back or side
Red card – Not a fair challenge, there is no contest and the player lands on his head, neck or shoulder
Mike Brown has been retained by the England camp this week, it would seem foolhardy for him to take to the field against Australia. This all happened in the 22nd minutes, which meant that one of Eddie’s ‘Finishers Semesa Rokoduguni had a lot of rugby to play.
Having kicked the first 3 penalties awarded, with George Ford missing the first, he kicked to touch with the penalty awarded for the Brown incident. England made the most of the additional man and Ford sent a wonderful pass over to Nathan Hughes, who was out on the wing, he wasn’t going to be stopped and scored the try.
I managed to get slightly blurry photos of the moment, the best part of them is the look on Sam Underhill’s face, the joy is clear to see! That try took the scoreline to England 11 Argentina 3, and Ford added another penalty before half time, while Juan Martin Hernandez had a bit of a shocker in missing one for his team, Argentina left 12 points on the pitch in total after missed kicks in the game.
There wasn’t a whole lot of joy in the second half, that was until Alex Lozowski on for Jonathan Joseph showed an amazing turn of speed break through the Argentinian defence, Slade looped the ball out to Rokoduguni who dived in to score. That try was very apt for the British Army Soldier on November 11th. The pass had the suspicion of being forward, but the benefit of doubt was given to England and the try awarded and converted by Ford.
The talented Nicolas Sanchez had the final word for Argentina in the 78th minute scoring their only try of the game. And so the game finished with the scoreline England 21 Argentina 3. It wasn’t a ‘good’ win, but it was a win. Courtney Lawes made 24 tackles and Sam Underhill 21, Mako Vunipola received the Man of The Match award from Sky TV. But England will need to improve their game across the board to beat Australia, their next opposition.