England first into World Cup quarters with win over 14-man Pumas
WORLD CUP REPORT: England became the first team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals Saturday after a 39-10 bonus-point win over Argentina, who had a man sent off for a high tackle.
Jack Nowell celebrated his return from injury with a late try, one of six scores for Eddie Jones’s men, who can now look to a last-eight clash likely against either Wales or Australia.
In perfect rugby conditions at Tokyo Stadium, the Pumas started the brighter, a delightful cross-field kick finding Matias Moroni in space, who jabbed the ball forward but was just beaten to the line by a covering Jonny May.
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The Pumas nearly went over after the resulting five-metre scrum but had to settle for three points in front of the posts, slotted by flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta to send their noisy supporters into raptures.
But Eddie Jones’s men hit back instantly, a catch-and-drive from a line-out creating space out wide for May to dot down on the left-wing.
Veteran Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy had described the match as “like a war” and passions boiled over in the 12th minute with an off-the-ball scrap sparked by a hit from Pablo Matera.
And shortly afterwards came the key moment of the match, referee Nigel Owens showing lock Tomas Lavanini a red card for a high hit on centre Owen Farrell, the tournament’s fourth.
The 26-year-old Jaguares lock has had disciplinary problems throughout his career and had received the most sin-bins in Pumas history, before Saturday’s transgression.
The 14-man Pumas quickly found themselves stretched and fullback Elliot Daly exploited a huge gap on the left for a try that doubled England’s advantage.
And scrumhalf Ben Youngs celebrated overtaking Johnny Wilkinson in terms of caps with a trademark sniping score deep into extra time, giving England a 15-3 lead at the break.
The only concern for Eddie Jones after 40 minutes would have been the form of Farrell, who appeared to have left his kicking boots at home — missing all four shots at goal.
The dismissal killed the match as a contest and George Ford sealed the four-try bonus point early in the second half, Farrell this time slotting the extras.
The second half was a disjointed affair and a packed Tokyo Stadium took to the Mexico wave for entertainment.
The Pumas had rarely threatened the England line but enjoyed some success with less than 10 minutes to go as winger Moroni finished off a slick move with a try under the posts.
Replacement Nowell put the icing on the cake, bouncing off two defenders for a sensational score in the corner before Cowan-Dickie sealed it with England’s sixth.
That score sparked more ugly scenes as the two teams pushed and shoved in Argentina’s in-goal area.
Early quarterfinal qualification is redemption for England after the humiliation of four years ago when they were the first World Cup hosts to miss out on the knock-out stages.
Next for Jones is a potential winner-takes-all meeting with arch-rivals France in Yokohama on October 12 to top Pool C — this World Cup’s ‘group of death’.
Argentina’s hopes of qualifying hang by a thread. They must beat the United States on Wednesday and hope France lose their two remaining fixtures against Tonga and England.
Man of the match: The award goes to Sam Underhill for his industrious performance around the park. Special mention also goes to fullback Elliot Daly who was a constant threat on attack.
Moment of the match: The game changed as a contest when Tomas Lavanini was sent off for his high shot on Owen Farrell in the 18th minute.
Villain: Tomas Lavanini for his high shot on Owen Farrell. It ruined the contest.
Tries: May, Daly, Youngs, Ford, Nowell, Cowan-Dickie
Cons: Farrell 3
Red card: Tomas Lavanini (Argentina, 18 – foul play, high tackle)
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell.
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Lucas Mensa, 23 Bautista Delguy.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)