Argentina v England: Preview and prediction

England travel to Buenos Aires for the second and final test of their tour of Argentina. Following on from the convincing 32-3 victory last week, Stuart Lancaster and his team will be looking to finish the tour in style after a lacklustre second half performance in Salta. England’s last visit to Buenos Aires was in June 1997 where, coincidentally, in the second of a two-test series, Jack Rowell’s side went down 33-13 to their Argentinian counterparts. However, Santiago Phelan’s side will have to produce a phenomenal performance to repeat history judging by their outing last week.


Stuart Lancaster has made two changes to his starting line-up which sees London Irish wing Marland Yarde earn his first cap while Kyle Eastmond makes his first start, filling the space left by Lions-bound Billy Twelvetrees at inside centre, after earning his first cap from the bench last week. Yarde has benefited from David Strettle’s sloppy performance in Salta and looks to provide a significant threat out wide while fellow wing Christian Wade will look to build on his impressive test debut, retaining his place in the number 11 shirt as this wide pairing provides a mouth-watering prospect for England fans.

The forwards are unchanged, unsurprising given the dominance England enjoyed at the set-piece last week. Another player looking to build on a good debut performance, Matt Kvesic stays at openside flanker and will look to repeat the tally of tackles he amassed last week, making no fewer than 20 and missing none last week. Some may be frustrated with Lancaster’s lack of rotation from the team in the previous fixture with the likes of Ben Foden perhaps deserving a start after his great late-season form and eye-catching cameo last week and Billy Vunipola’s hattrick against CONSUR XV and try-scoring debut appearance in Salta but he expects Argentina to ‘come back very strongly’ after their turgid performance in the first test and appears unwilling to risk drawing the series.

Player to watch: Freddie Burns

Stuart Lancaster will be eager to see his team maintain the same level of performance for the full 80 minutes after England’s tempo seemed to drop off after break in Salta last week. The man tasked with ensuring this is achieved is Freddie Burns. The Gloucester man had a good game in the first test but his game management will be under scrutiny more than ever Saturday night, particularly in the absence of club teammate Billy Twelvetrees. While his talent is clear for everyone to see, this is the perfect stage for Burns to show he has the mettle required for test level.


The Pumas have made five changes to the side that were so comprehensively out-gunned in Salta last weekend. Guillermo Roan, Rodrigo Báez, Julio Farías, Gabriel Ascárate and Belisario Agulla all come into the starting XV, while stalwart captain Felipe Contepomi moves infield to fly-half to partner Martin Landajo at half-back.

Once again there is a long list of absentees (21, to be precise) all being rested for the upcoming Rugby Championship after long seasons. Felipe Contepomi will, once again, take much of the responsibility for getting his team going, and there were times last week when his frustration with the team was obvious. He will have been working hard in training to make sure there are fewer sloppy errors this time out.

Belisario Agulla, younger brother of Bath winger Horacio, is a potentially lethal finisher and his battle opposite England new boy Marland Yarde will be fascinating. Both are raw, but both possess a lot of talent. Aside from Contepomi, the only player with any recognisable experience is centre Gonzalo Tiesi, who will be familiar to Quins fans.

Player to watch: Julio Farias Cabello

Fans of London Welsh will know all about this man. An abrasive blindside/lock, he made intermittent appearances for them after signing in February. Whilst he couldn’t quite drag them away from relegation, there were glimpses of the talent that convinced Lyn Jones to sign him. He was an ever present in the Pumas’ inaugural Rugby Championship campaign last season, and will be hoping to impress and gain a spot in their squad again this year.


If England can repeat their first half performance in Salta and maintain it across the duration of the match then they should overcome what could be a wounded animal in Argentina. The set piece will be key once again and if last week is anything to go by, England will triumph. England by 15.

By Rich Elkins

22 thoughts on “Argentina v England: Preview and prediction

  1. The second half in Salta was only ‘lacklustre’ as it was clear the game was won at half time, what would of been the point of England throwing themselves against a brick wall to rack up a big victory when they were playing over 4000ft above sea level and also in stifling heat?

    It is logical to slow the game down, go thorugh the motions and save the players for the second test, I know it wasn’t a pretty half but England got the job done.

    1. Not convinced. England didn’t have a poor second half because they purposefully took the foot off the gas. It looked to me like a lack of concentration/motivation after the game was won at half time. It is hard to get motivated in situations like that but i was very disappointed by England’s lack of ruthlessness.

      1. Fair point but we can agree it was down to the game being won at half time, do you think it would of been a good idea to over exert against an understrength Argentina in those conditions, I think it would of been folly to have racked up a cricket score at the expense of the second test?

        1. In answer to your question mr b

          “do you think it would of been a good idea to over exert against an understrength Argentina in those conditions”

          Yes. I think when you play an international you play at 100%. I think you’re more likely to get injured if you take your foot off the gas. Also you’re playing for your shirt.

      2. i see both your points.

        i would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they decided to save themselves for the 2nd test.

        england are going to try and finally get the total series win in argentina (has it ever happened before? if it has it hasnt been for a while).

        the lads were talking about it even before the 1st test, so they knew it was on the cards.

        when you have a game won at half time, you tend to relax a bit and shut off. you start trying things that maybe you wouldnt usually. sometimes this results in an absolute cricket score, sometimes it doesnt. i would hope it was a simple lack of concentration. better to get it out of the system then than in another game.

        also, lets not forget that strettle blew at least 2 (am i being slightly generous in only saying 2?) try scoring opportunities. the score could have been a bit different…

        1. Well put Simo and you are being generous to Strettle, still waiting for a response from Trevor, must be Scottish lol

  2. Not sure I completely agree. The difference between the two halves was taking the opportunities. England were under pressure in much of the first half but we managed to convert turnover ball into points. We (OK Strettle) then squandered the chances that we had for most of the second until the try/no try that came at the end.

    My opinion was that the game was really closer than the score suggested. However, having said that, I’m not sure that Argentina pose much of an attacking threat without a reliable kicker.

  3. 51% possession first half and 35% second half. Lots of needless penalties and we kicked away (poorly into the breeze) the small amount of possession we did have.

    We certainly finished much better in the first half, but don’t think it was our only second half issue.

    1. Agreed, poor kicking has become a habit for England, but much of that 51% possession came from the turnovers, many of which were from sloppy Argentinian play. They cut out many of those mistakes in the second half. Just think that the scoreboard flattered us somewhat. Won’t be as easy tomorrow.

  4. Key player for me is Wood. A solid, but not dominant, game last week. Hope to see his really leading from the front this week, especially if he wants to stay custodian of that 6 shirt.

  5. Finally England have some options on the wing, centre and fly half!
    You have to pick up your game Ashton, Strettle, Barritt & Farrell – or you are toast!!

  6. Pretty impressed after this tour. Here are my thoughts position by position.

    Rob Webber was very good, I think he has proven to be a 3rd genuine contender for England, if he can stay fit. With SL saying that Hartley will have prove himself to regain trust, we may have seen webber push his claim above Hartley. Youngs seems like he could be a starting test lion, so we have good depth at 2.

    Marler had a better tour, and his scrummaging seemed better. Defensively he made a few good dominant hits, so I was pleased. If he is 3rd choice loosehead, then England are in a good place going into 2015.

    Davey Wilson impressed me too. He wasn’t ever going to set the world alight, but I think he has proven that the world won’t end if Cole picks up an injury. With Thomas and Doran-Jones as cover, we have good depth there too. I hope the young ones get the chance to develop a bit more (maybe a few more Saxons fixtures are needed).

    Attwood and Launchbury were both great. I think Attwood may have pressed his claim above Lawes. His ability to cover both the lineout caller role, and the enforcer one, could mean he is the ideal bench option to launchbury and parling.

    Kvesic was very good. Enough said there. We also have plenty of other options at flanker. Wood was solid. Croft, Robshaw, Fraser, Wallace and more will add depth.

    Morgan and Vunipola are good options at 8. I hope we can develop a 3rd option – maybe Haskell needs to focus mor on being an 8 than a 6, to give England a 3rd option.

    Dickson proved he is a good backup to Youngs and care. I still like simpson over wiggy, but he isn’t bad either.

    Burns was good, like everyone expected. We know what we get with Flood and Farrell (hopefully Faz will be a better player after the lions). I thought that Myler’s passing looked pretty slick when he came on, so he could be a decent option as backup to the other 3 in the future. Ultimately though, I hope Ford can kick on so we have a good few options (and variety) at 10.

    Centres were decent. 12Ts was excellent and hopefully will be better once he returns from the lions. Eastmond is definitely a handful. JJ was better, but I still want more. Tuilagi and Barritt provide more competition, and lets not forget Tomkins was ruled out of this tour, and Daly was left at home too.

    We have found our new wingers. Yarde and Wade obviously impressed the most (and they are a genuine 11 and 14 which England have lacked). May was solid, but I hope for more. Hopefully the competition will give ashy a kick up the backside. Strettle has probably blown it. With guys like JJ, Daly and eastmond able to cover here, I don’t think we need quite as much depth as some of the other spots.

    Fullback looks good too. Foden is probably the front runner now. I think brown was good, but he seems to lack the finishers instinct, and as people have pointed out – he never passes the ball… Tait is a good backup option, again with Daly able to provide cover too. Also Alex Goode shouldn’t be binned. He isn’t my favourite player by a long shot, but I think he could definitely answer an injury crisis. 4th or 5th choice is ok for Goode. I would like to see him get some time at 10, as he could prove a useful utility option.

    All in all I think that this tour has given England some extra depth, which is key moving forward. Hopefully we do not regress and go back to picking some of the previous players as first choice. The likes of Goode, Ashton and a couple others are good players, but they should be squad members not starters.

    I also hope the new competition will bring back form for some players.

    1. I like your summary, I have to say though I am curious as to who will be picked if Lancaster won’t drop Ashton, because electric as wade is, yarde has the power we have been wanting for a very long time. Personally I’d play them both but will be interesting to see who is above in Lancaster’s eyes.
      Ben Morgan was good in both games, he was obviously marked as a danger man in the second test because Argentina did their best to stop him at source.
      I think Davey Wilson proved what a handful he can be, his scrummaging was really good and he actually offers some ball carrying unlike Cole, his link play isn’t bad either and for a man that size he has some gas.

      Though Atwood was really good, loved the enforcer role he played, some of our scrum prowess has to be dedicated to him and Launchbury.

      Have to say Tom Wood was very quiet for the two matches, he was solid very true and its nice to have a grafter but to be the best in the world as the Blacks show you need to be solid and have the ability to be spectacular.

    2. Good summary Simo, if I had to pick an EPS today I would go for:

      Corbisiero, Vunipola, Marler, Wilson, Cole
      Youngs, Webber, Hartley (Didn’t see much from Paice and maybe a little too soon for Buchanan)
      Launchbury, Parling, Atwood, Lawes
      Croft, Wood, Kvesic, Robshaw
      Morgan, Vunipola

      Backs (15)
      Youngs, Care, Dickson
      Farrell, Burns, Flood
      36, Tuilagi, JJ, Eastmond
      Yarde, Wade, Ashton (Yes Ashton had a shocker last year, but look at his premiership strike rate over time, he is a world class finisher and I don’t think we should give up on him just yet)
      Foden, Daly/Tait

      Players out:
      – Clark (worthy of Saxons, but can’t keep locking an EPS slot without getting a cap over Kvesic)
      – Haskell (Saxons)
      – Tom Johnson (drop, harsh but Saxons needs to be a blend of upcoming talent and experience and can’t just be for people who are just short at international level and think Clarke & Haskell offer a bit more)
      – Waldrom (drop, I really like the tank but he tailed off badly last season. If he wants it bad enough he, his nutritionist and conditioning team can improve his body composition. Weepu managed it, Vunipola managed it, why not Waldrom)
      – Barritt (Saxons, questionable for him behind JJ and Eastmond, but I would want Eastmond in the 23 shirt I think there’s more potential in the skills and pace of JJ if we want to ever use the outside backs.)
      – Strettle (drop, disappointing to see him chalk up another cap at the expense of giving Yarde a first opportunity even though he did have a good club year. Had sufficient chance to prove he’s an international finisher and not taken it)
      – Goode (Saxons, nice intelligent player to blend with some youth, but not cutting it at international level)
      – Brown (Saxons, harsh as he’s not done a huge amount wrong, but I don’t think he’s done enough right. Daly showed more against England in the Baa Baas game than we’ve seen from Brown for England. Even managed a try, something Brown is yet to achieve in 18 caps. Tait’s end of season form was also sparkling and I would also rather he was given a chance rather than having Brown keep chalking up caps)

  7. I agree, good summary. I’ve also been thinking about how the England squad will look going forward and trying to work out how Lancaster will change the EPS in August..

    He’s said he won’t drop any of the players he has rested which is fair enough i think but what about injured players such as Callum Clarke and Haskell?

    Having looked at the current EPS squad I think he may swap out Clarke for Attwood, Waldrom for Billy Vunipola, and then bring in Kvesic for possibly Tom Johnson or Haskell. It gets harder in the backs though.. probably Strettle to get dropped for Yarde or Wade but then there doesn’t seem like any other space available for the other winger or Eastmond, unless he drops the third scrum half or JJ for example. So they might have to stay in the Saxons squad.

    Lancaster was also keen to stress that he will choose any players from the Saxons to train with the EPS squad aswell (as he has done in the past) but it always seems there needs to be an ‘injury’ in the original squad in order to call someone else up. So maybe the autumn internationals will be the last chace to impress in training for the likes of Ashton or Goode (hopefully they won’t still be picked to play) and if the younger players continue to impress they will be members of the full squad for the next Six Nations.

    1. Think he needs to take some tougher decisions in the backs, as this is where most of our issues are. We have 8 tests before touring New Zealand, 15 tests before the end of 2014 (and the aspiration to be a top 2 side in the rankings) and 20 test before we start the RWC warm ups.

      Don’t think we can afford to go through the AIs keeping someone like Goode in because he didn’t tour this summer at the expense of an Eastmond or Yarde. Those that appear to have something special about them need to be given every opportunity now.

  8. Looks like we were writing at the same time Matt.. I like the look of your EPS but I just don’t think Lancaster will cast aside many players this time.

    1. And again! I’m not sure he’ll be as ruthless either, think he’ll hang onto players he likes for another year or so and then we’ll see them getting cut with a year or less before the RWC. I would rather the tough decisions were taken now.

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