England 31 Argentina 12: Three talking points
England 31 Argentina 12: Three talking points as the Red Rose win their second autumn international
England pack on song – again
After a dominant England scrum performance in a 20-13 victory over Australia, Stuart Lancaster warned his pack against the perils of overconfidence ahead of a tough Argentina clash. The Pumas boasted 204 more caps than their Red Rose counterparts, as well as one of the most-lauded scrums in world rugby. But the hosts built on last weekend’s performance, albeit with a new front three of Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley and David Wilson. And the England pack sent out an early statement as the dominated their big opponents from a lineout before a driving maul resulted in Joe Launchbury touching down. It prompted Ugo Monye to tweet, “Is that the first driving maul scored by England at Twickers for over five years?! #stats #power great start!”. However, it wasn’t a perfect performance as England were guilty of making a couple of avoidable errors, which against greater (and more energised) opposition, will get punished.
Ashton’s confidence needs to grow after rare try
Chris Ashton was one of the big talking points ahead of this Twickenham clash as he remained in the starting line-up after Michael Yarde’s injury gave the Saracens wing a reprieve. Ashton has endured a worrying loss of form over the past 12 months and the 26-year-old’s lack of confidence was evident for the whole of Twickenham to see in the opening 25 minutes of the match. An early moment of indecision was followed by a harrowing chance squandered. With England putting pressure on the Argentina defence, the game switched from the left to the right, with Mike Brown and Ashton holding a man advantage. However, the Sarries man failed to reach the line as he was held up by a desperate tackle. It was a chance that most Premiership wingers would have expected to covert. Ashton did make amends moments later as he fed Billy Twelvetrees for England’s second try before perhaps a turning point in his Red Rose career. With six minutes remaining of the first half, Ashton finished a good England move to bag his first try since February. It didn’t prompt a sensational second half from the England No14 as he did lack ideas and invention after the interval but it is, at least, a timely boost.
England navigate hurdles ahead of Kiwi showdown
England were dominant in their second autumn Test but how much can we read into the Red Rose’s opening wins against Argentina and Australia? Harlequins wing Mike Brown has made the No15 shirt his own after two excellent performances. The Southampton-born England star was solid a full-back as he showed a safe pair of hands, whilst producing an almighty leap in the early stages of the second half to catch a high ball. England’s half-back pairing of Owen Farrell and Lee Dickson should start against the All Blacks next weekend, although it’s a partnership that is still developing. The Red Rose did stutter between the 50th and 60th minute as England’s backline failed to capitalise on good work from their pack. Lancaster’s men didn’t really improve too much from that dip despite Ben Morgan’s late try as their backline lacked ideas and failed to strike from promising positions around the Argentinian 22. These spells may escape unpunished against a tired and dejected Argentina, but World Cup holders New Zealand won’t be as sympathetic.