England hold on against Los Pumas for bronze
MATCH REPORT: England recorded a narrow 26-23 win over Argentina and claimed third place at the World Cup on Friday.
It was a hard-fought and sometimes scrappy encounter with both teams scoring two tries apiece at Stade de France in Saint-Denis.
*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!
However, the boot of Owen Farrell proved to be the difference as the flyhalf added 16 points to England’s tally for the win.
With just three points the difference the Los Pumas had a chance to level matters. However, Nicolas Sanchez failed with a 75th-minute penalty and the side was unable to secure a crucial try.
England enjoyed a good start. Tom Curry, playing in his 50th test match, won a penalty which Owen Farrell slotted over for the 3-0 lead.
Steve Borthwick’s men contineu to dominet the openeing exhanges. From a line-out, they set up a maul before Ben Earl, who has been outstanding throughout the tournament, dived over the try.
Farrell added the conversion and penalty for the 13-0 lead.
Micheal Cheika’s men finally switched on after 15 minutes. They set up a line-up inside England’s 22 and looked lethal with the ball in hand. They eventually won a penalty and opted for a scrum under the posts. However England’s second shove along with a Los Pumas’ knock-on all their efforts.
They finally got on the board as Emiliano Boffelli and Farrell exchanged penalties before Cubelli celebrated his 93rd international with a try.
Boffelli’s conversion took his team to double figures, trailing 10-16 at the stroke of half-time after the Pumas finally showed some creativity in attack.
Cheika’s side returned from the break the better, as Cubelli turned the provider for flyhalf Santiago Carreras, who beat three England defenders with ease before Boffelli made it 17-16 after 43 minutes and Argentina led for the first time.
Their lead was short-lived as Carreras’ clearance kick was charged down and hooker Theo Dan dived over barely 90 seconds later and Farrell’s extras restored the six-point gap.
With half an hour to play Boffelli cut the deficit to three with a long-range penalty before 34-year-old Ben Youngs was substituted and given a standing ovation from the England bench on his 129th and final game for his country and the British and Irish Lions.
As the pace of the game slowed down by the hour mark, Borthwick brought George Ford into the fray, allowing England to have three playmakers on the pitch with Farrell moving to centre and livewire Marcus Smith at fullback.
As the game approached the final 10 minutes England were 26-23 up thanks to Farrell’s fourth penalty and Pumas’ substitute fly-half Nicolas Sanchez’ first shot at goal.
The three points separating the outfits set up a tense finish but with Argentina inside England’s territory, Sanchez missed a simple-looking penalty to bring the teams level and take the game to extra time with five minutes to go.
The error took the wind out of Argentina’s sails as England held on to go one better than they did the only other time they reached a third-place playoff, in 1995.
Man of the match: England loose forward Ben Earl. The No.8 was incredible on attack and defence. He also made a crucial steal inside his own five.
Tries: Cubelli, S. Carreras
Cons: Boffelli 2
Pens: Boffelli 3
Tries: Earl, Dan
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 4
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Pedro Rubiolo, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Bruno, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Nicholas Sanchez, 23 Matias Moroni.
England: 15 Marcus Smith, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Henry Arundell, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Theo Dan, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Dan Cole, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 George Ford, 23 Ollie Lawrence
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (England), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
*Additional source: AFP