PLAYER RATINGS: Not sensational, but solid
OPINION: England got their November Test Series off to a victorious start at Twickenham earlier today, defeating Argentina, 21-8, in a resilient but rusty performance.
Eddie Jones’ men were far from their best and lacked the chemistry they will need to triumph against Australia next week, but it was also a game that England never looked like losing or even under threat.
Rugbypass journalist Alex Shaw rates the England players!
15 Mike Brown
Didn’t have time to have a major impact on the game, leaving the field midway through the first half due to a head knock, but his fearlessness and reliability under the high ball – arguably his point of difference versus other English fullbacks – was on display several times in the first quarter.
14 Anthony Watson
The highlight of a quiet back three performance from England, with his jinking runs about as much threat as England, could muster out wide for the majority of the game. He also coped well with the transition to fullback after Brown left the field with injury.
13 Jonathan Joseph
Chances to shine were few and far between for Joseph. Henry Slade didn’t provide the carrying threat that Farrell often does in the 12 jersey and the Argentine defence was able to fan out with the ball and didn’t give him any obvious one-on-one opportunities to make the most of.
12 Henry Slade
A performance full of promise and potential, but little tangible effect until his move to 13 later in the game. As the game went on, he showcased his comfort with a rugby ball and his speed of thought to collect the ball and turn it into a pass or deft kick in one motion was evident.
11 Elliot Daly
Not too much of note to say here. Daly did his defensive duties well but he was feeding on scraps in attack.
10 George Ford
A couple of missed kicks take a small bit of gloss off a classy outing from Ford. The fly-half pulled the strings well, not least so with his looped pass to Nathan Hughes for the back rower to score England’s first try.
9 Ben Youngs
Provided as much tempo as his pack gave him for the 60 minutes he spent on the pitch. The Argentine defensive line didn’t give him much space around the fringes. Box-kicking was solid and most left the Argentine back three with very little time before the chase met them.
8 Nathan Hughes
A couple of knock-ons blighted an otherwise very impressive performance from Hughes. The No 8 dominated the gain-line at Twickenham, not only as a proficient carrier but also rocking Argentinean carriers back with thunderous tackles. Capped his performance, fittingly, with his first try for England.
7 Sam Underhill
Despite winning just his second cap, Underhill looked like a seasoned veteran against Argentina. He scythed down Argentinean ball-carriers with his flawless tackling technique and was one of England’s best chasers, rarely allowing the Argentine back three any space to counter-attack into.
6 Chris Robshaw
Performance will get overshadowed by those of his fellow back rowers, but just like the one turned in by Kruis, it did the nuts and bolts well. The blindside hit plenty of rucks, helping secure attacking ball for England.
5 George Kruis
Kruis ran the lineout well and lead the defensive line from the guard position at the rucks. It was a good nuts and bolts performance from the lock.
4 Courtney Lawes
A quieter performance by Lawes’ recent standards and having the ball ripped by Juan Martin Hernández will not sit well with the Northampton man. Nevertheless, he carried and tackled hard for 80 minutes and won a late turnover with Argentina threatening the England try line.
3 Dan Cole
A solid, if unspectacular performance. The tighthead came under pressure in his first couple of scrums but responded well as the game went on, as well as contributing to the contact area on attacking ball.
2 Dylan Hartley
A knock-on in an England maul just metres from the Argentinean try line hurt Hartley’s stock, but he did step up as a communicator around the ruck, marshalling the defence, as well as maintaining a 100 percent record at the lineout.
1 Mako Vunipola
Had a very solid game, constantly testing the fringes and putting width on the ball when Argentina dedicated more defenders to stop his rumbling forays around the fringes. His line speed also stood out in a very effective defensive performance.
16 Jamie George (on for Hartley, 58th minute)
Didn’t have many opportunities to make an impact.
17 Ellis Genge (on for Vunipola, 69th minute)
A couple of powerful carries, but like George, his chances to impact the game were limited
18 Harry Williams (on for Cole, 69th minute)
Helped England see out the game for the final 10 minutes, with manful defence and efficient tackling
19 Joe Launchbury (on for Kruis, 57th minute)
Got as busy as he could for the short time he was on the pitch. Would have made a much better impact if he was starting.
20 Sam Simmonds (on for Hughes, 72nd minute)
Similarly to many of the impact players, Simmonds did not have much of a chance to make a real mark on this game. Some solid defence portrayed his potential.
21 Danny Care (on for Youngs, 62nd minute)
Brought good tempo for England’s second try but, again, England had taken their foot off the gas and were soaking up pressure for most of his time on the pitch.
22 Alex Lozowski (on for Joseph, 62nd minute)
Brought immediate impact, threatening the line as a carrier – which Slade had not done – and his big break up the field laid the foundations for England’s second try.
23 Semesa Rokoduguni (on for Bronw, 22nd minute)
Had longer on the pitch to affect the game than the other replacements and played a role in both of England’s tries. He held his position well to create space for Hughes to go over in the first half and finished the second off well himself.
By Alex Shaw, Rugbypass