Rugby World Cup 2011: England scrape past Argentina

Substitute Ben Youngs' try edges England past Argentina in what was a nervy game in Dunedin

Rugby World Cup - Pool B, 10 September 2011, Otago Stadium
team1
England
13 - 9
team2
Argentina

Substitute Ben Youngs helped England secure a tense victory in their World Cup opener against Argentina, scoring the only try of the game 13 minutes from time.

A game plagued by infringements and penalties, which saw 11 misses from both sides’ specialist kickers, ended in a narrow win for England to leave them second in Pool B.

Argentina put on a good performance but the 2007 finalists were able to grind out a result in Dunedin.

Manager Martin Johnson admitted it was a nervy affair after the game, saying: “I think I aged about 20 years, but that’s what World Cups are about -you’ve got to find a way to win it.

“It’s not a fantastic performance but it’s a fantastic win in the circumstances. We probably got a little bit more quicker ball [in the second half].

“When we went wide we got turned over a lot, but we kept on going, we tired them out and we got there.”

Argentina applied early pressure to earn a 6-3 lead at half time. Fly-half Felipe Contepomi was instrumental and had orchestrated the Puma’s play before he suffered an injury to the torso and was replaced by Marcelo Bosch with less than 30 minutes gone.

England’s only real decent passage of play in the first half came when Ben Foden broke the opposition’s back line and burst down the middle of the field to offload to Delon Armitage, who was five metres away from scoring a try.

The high tempo continued after the break, and Martín Rodríguez extended Argentina’s lead to 9-3 with his second penalty.

England manager Johnson opted to replace Richard Wigglesworth with Ben Youngs at scrum-half early on – and the substitution proved a turning point.

With 15 minutes to play, Agustin Creevy made a dangerous tackle on Foden. Tom Palmer came off the bench to collect the ball in the lineout, giving England a platform to build pressure on the Argentina defence.

Substitute Youngs then zipped through a gap in the line to score. Jonny Wilkinson, who had endured a woeful kicking display throughout, then made no mistakes with the conversion in front of the posts to put England ahead for the first time.

England, now leading 10-9, began to turn the screw with Dylan Hartley performing well in scrums and lineouts. Wilkinson then converted a second penalty to open up a four-point gap before the final whistle.

Relieved England captain Mike Tindall hailed Youngs’ display after the scrum-half’s late try spared England’s blushes.

“Youngsy came on and turned the game for us,” Tindall said. “We got our tempo going and we got a try on the back of it.

“The one thing I am going to give the team credit for is the way we stuck to our task. We got a win but there is a lot to work on.”

England: Foden, Ashton, Tuilagi, Tindall (captain), Armitage, Wilkinson, Wigglesworth; Sheridan, Thompson, Cole, Deacon, Lawes, Croft, Haskell, Easter.

Replacements: Hartley (for Thompson, 62), Stevens (for Sheridan, 62), Palmer (for Deacon, 66), Youngs (for Wigglesworth, 50). Not Used: Wood, Flood, Banahan.

Yellow card: Cole (34)

Argentina: Rodriguez, Camacho, Tiesi, Fernandez, Agulla, Contepomi (captain), Vergallo; Roncero, Ledesma, Figallo, Carizza, Albacete, Farias Cabello, Leguizamon, Fernandez Lobbe.

Replacements: Creevy (for Ledesma, 55), Scelzo for Vergallo, 57, for Roncero, 77), Galarza (for Leguizamon, 78), Campos (for Cabello, 69) Bosch (for Contepomi, 26), Imhoff (for Tiesi, 36). Not used: Lalanne.

Attendance: 30,700

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand).

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