Player Ratings: England's first real test
OPINION: In the first real test of England’s Rugby World Cup campaign, they looked professional against Argentina in racking up a bonus-point win and a 39-10 scoreline, even if it could have been an even larger margin.
Los Pumas lost Tomas Lavanini to a red card early in the first half and although England were able to get the four tries they wanted, they struggled to expose the South American side and make the most of their numerical advantage, save for a five-minute flourish at the death.
Check out our England player ratings versus Argentina below.
15 Elliot Daly – 7.5
It was the first game of the Rugby World Cup where an opponent really attempted to test Daly defensively and he passed with flying colours. He was proficient in the air and positionally, whilst his handling and counter-attacks facilitated plenty of positives for England, including his own try.
14 Anthony Watson – 6.5
The Bath flier had a couple of incisive runs that evaded a number of tackles, but the ball very rarely seemed to find its way out to him, as England prospered more regularly when they moved it to the left. He was good in the air, too, when tested.
13 Manu Tuilagi – 6
A relatively quiet start from Tuilagi in terms of carrying and he was lucky not to see a yellow card for his challenge on Emiliano Boffeli in the air. He began to carry more as the game went on, although it was not quite the influential impact he offered against Tonga.
12 Owen Farrell – 5.5
It was far from Farrell’s best performance in an England jersey, not least so for his wayward kicking at goal, where he was successful on just four of his eight attempts. His tackling and kicking from hand were more effective, however.
11 Jonny May – 7
An effective and balanced outing from May, who was as adept defensively as he was offensively. He kept his depth and width well for his try, as well as proving elusive when he came off his wing looking for work.
10 George Ford – 8
A strong show of playmaking from the flyhalf who not only drew men and provided the scoring passes for the tries of May and Daly, he also grabbed one of his own in the second half. He kicked into space well, too, as Argentina tired.
9 Ben Youngs – 7.5
One kick out on the full aside, Youngs’ box-kicking was very effective. He also brought tempo and energy to the play, something which clearly began to tire Argentina following their reduction to 14 men. He deserved his try at the end of the first half.
1 Joe Marler – 7
The loosehead seemed to be finding his feet at the first couple of scrums, before going on to put Juan Figallo under repeated pressure at the set-piece. Helped provide quick ball for Youngs to work with.
2 Jamie George – 6.5
The Saracens hooker uncharacteristically missed a throw against Argentina, although he was successful on his other 10 attempts. It was one of his quieter performances in the loose for England, despite being highly proficient at the set-piece.
3 Kyle Sinckler – 7
Sinckler was lucky to avoid a card early in the game for a no arms tackle, though he worked hard to redeem himself. His scrummaging was strong and his playmaking at first receiver, with cut-back and pop passes, helped England’s pack get over the gain-line.
4 Maro Itoje – 7.5
Although the scoreline suggests a one-sided game in which England dominated in attack, it was defensively where Itoje stood out. His line-speed and physicality of his tackles were crucial for England. He also won five line-outs, stole an Argentine throw and forced a rip in the contact.
5 George Kruis – 6
A quieter game from Kruis who, despite being successfully targeted at three lineouts, didn’t have his usual influence in the loose. He was still an important defensive communicator and organiser in the line, though.
6 Tom Curry – 6.5
The flank provided England with their third lineout option and was a physical tackler throughout. He moved over to No.8 after Billy Vunipola left the field and did a decent job of controlling the game from there.
7 Sam Underhill – 6.5
Underhill’s chasing of kicks and chop tackling were his points of difference in the first half, before he became a more prominent carrying option in the second half.
8 Billy Vunipola – 5.5
The No.8 struggled to win the physical contest that he usually excels at and that was illustrated by his two knock-ons in the first half. He got through a solid amount of work but was replaced at half time by Lewis Ludlam due to a possible ankle injury.
16 Luke Cowan-Dickie – 6
The hooker connected with his only lineout after coming on and it led to a try for the Exeter Chief, who dotted down from the subsequent maul.
17 Mako Vunipola – 5.5
Vunipola coughed up a scrum penalty just after coming on and missed a tackle that led to Argentina’s late try in his first appearance since his injury.
18 Dan Cole – 6
Scrummaged well after coming on, although he didn’t have too much else to do with the game already won.
19 Courtney Lawes – 6.5
The lock brought his physicality to bear after coming on in the second half, forcing a knock-on and tackling with ferocity.
20 Lewis Ludlam – 7
The Northampton Saint offered plenty of impact from the bench, particularly with his carrying, when his strong leg drives in contact brought England gain-line success.
21 Willi Heinz – 6
Kept the tempo up following Youngs’ departure as the game moved away from tactical kicking and England attempted to stretch Argentina.
22 Henry Slade – n/a
Only had the opportunity to make one pass after replacing Ford and will be hopeful of having more of an impact in subsequent games.
23 Jack Nowell – 7
Dazzled with his footwork after coming off the bench and powered his way out of contact and over the try line to add some gloss to the England scoreline.
By Alex Shaw, @RugbyPass