Another thrilling game between Argentina and England on Saturday evening, with England running out 35-25 winners. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely fun to watch. Here’s how the England players rated.
1 Ellis Genge – 7
The England front row struggled in the scrum to start with, and there were a few ominous signs, before really fronting up and managing to gain parity against a very destructive Puma pack. Impressive when you think how England were steamrolled by Argentina in the scrum as recently as last autumn. Individually, Genge was quieter than last week – he still made a couple of big tackles and carries, but a good rather than great game.
2 Dylan Hartley – 7
Better from Hartley, he was strong in defence and put in another huge 80-minute shift. Did well at the set piece until a couple of late errors at the lineout, but more like it from the skipper.
3 Harry Williams – 7.5
The pick of the front row for me, Williams was much more physical in the loose this week and got in the faces on the Argentinian pack. A proper fiery tighthead performance.
4 Charlie Ewels – 7
Better from the big man. Combined brilliantly with Launchbury early on for England’s opening try and ran the line out with aplomb – that should not go unnoticed given he is only 21.
5 Joe Launchbury – 8.5
A real leader’s performance from the Wasps lock. He was excellent in every facet, particularly his carrying, and showed some very soft hands on more than one occasion. That apparently geography is the only thing standing between him and a Lions call up is a farce.
6 Chris Robshaw – 8
Looked like he had never been away. Robshaw put in his typical tireless graft and really got under the skin of the Argentinian pack – their captain Agustin Creevy in particular. He linked very well with the new man Underhill to win some great turnovers, and showed a nice little take and break from the front of the lineout. Will be interesting to see how some competition for his shirt drives him on.
7 Sam Underhill – 7.5
Although he made a couple of knock-ons and missed a tackle early on, that can be forgiven and filed under ‘debut nerves’. A real old-school seven, Underhill grew into the game and combined well with Robshaw to dominate the breakdown. If Jones does decide to rest Lions like Haskell in the Autumn, the contest for the seven shirt between Underhill, Curry and Wilson will be fascinating.
8 Nathan Hughes – 8
Another powerful and bruising game from Hughes. He skittled the Puma defence on numerous occasions – it was his initial trundle which started off the Ewels try – and he helped shore up the back of the scrum well when it was under pressure. He may make a few more basic errors than Billy Vunipola, but he is one hell of a back-up.
9 Danny Care – 8
One of Danny Care’s best games in an England shirt. Snappy delivery and his tempo dictated England’s play. Showed great awareness and a nice support line for his Quins colleague Brown for his try. Was pretty good defensively which isn’t always his forte and stole a vital turnover from a scrum on the five metre line. His box-kicking still isn’t quite as good as the rest of his game though.
10 George Ford – 9
What can I say, another wold-class performance from the diminutive flyhalf. His kicking was pinpoint, including a beautifully struck drop goal to take England’s lead beyond a single converted try and clinch the game. Ford showcased some wonderful attacking play, and great vision as he stole an Argentinian offload and put Brown into space for Care’s try. I am also always so impressed with how he fronts up in defence against the big runners who try to target him.
11 Jonny May – 7
A quiet first half for May but another who grew into the game – chased well and had a couple of good runs (he ran straight as well which was nice). His kick chase down the line forced Argentina into touch and led to Will Collier’s maul try. Gave away a penalty for a high tackle.
12 Piers Francis – 6
A mixed game for Francis. He tried a cute grubber through but mucked it up and Argentina broke away to score, but showed up in support of Mike Brown to score a try for himself. The jury is still out on whether he has done enough to earn a sport in the next squad.
13 Henry Slade – 6
Pretty anonymous from Slade this week… I didn’t make a single note about him during the game. That’s not to say he did too much wrong, but I expect more from such a talented player (see the step and grubber through from last week).
14 Marland Yarde – 5
Compared to last week, Yarde was pretty poor. He rushed up out the line too often and made two serious defensive errors: one when he hesitated instead of committing to the hit for Argentina’s first try, and again when he should have taken the inside man whose only obstacle was a tired Dylan Hartley, leading to another try. Apart from that, he didn’t get a chance to show his attacking side. A frustratingly inconsistent tour from the winger.
15 Mike Brown – 9
Brown’s best game for England in a good while and the man-of-the-match. He finished with 130 metres made as he picked some beautiful lines of attack, pulling off an unbelievable intercept at full pace and break to set up Francis’ try, before later on haring down the line to put Care in for his try. A penalty for a high tackle the only blemish on an otherwise near-prefect game. Here’s hoping this is Brown back in form for the foreseeable future.
Replacements – 7
Few of the replacements had much of a chance to shine, but as with last week, it should be noted England closed out a tight match with some very inexperienced players on the pitch. Often teams fall apart when they empty the bench, as the structure and composure goes to bits, but not this new look England apparently. Pick of the ‘finishers’ were the two props, Matt Mullan and Will Collier. They secured the scrum and busied themselves making some big tackles – Collier even managed to score his first ever senior try. No bad at all.
Who impressed you at the weekend?
By Henry Ker