This World Cup thing’s going rather well for Eddie Jones and England, isn’t it? After the shambles of 2015, the men in white are into the quarter-finals courtesy of a barnstorming 39-10 victory over a depleted Pumas outfit.
Tomas Lavanini’s early dismissal for a dangerous tackle on Owen Farrell left the South Americans chasing shadows in the Tokyo heat, with Jonny May, Elliot Daly, and Ben Youngs crossing in a dominant first-half for England, before George Ford, Luke Cowan-Dickie, and Jack Nowell wrapped up another bonus-point and a place in the knockouts.
Here’s how each member of Jones’ side got on.
Joe Marler – 7
A strong defensive showing from Marler kept the Pumas at bay, the Harlequins prop proving he is a more than adequate alternative to Mako Vunipola.
Jamie George – 8
Another front-rower who was powerful in defence, George ensured the Argentines struggled to break the English down. His accuracy at the lineout was integral to the flow and rhythm of Jones’ recruits.
Kyle Sinckler – 7
As is usually the case, Sinckler was a useful pattering ram on Saturday. He was an ever-willing runner as he continuously barrelled into opposition tacklers.
Maro Itoje – 8
What a phenomenal athlete Itoje is. The rangy lock was involved in all that was good from the forwards, leading the pack with a devastating display.
George Kruis – 6
Not as influential as his partner, but another gritty performance from Kruis. Nevertheless, he would likely have been ousted from the starting lineup had Courtney Lawes been at his brilliant best in previous group games.
Tom Curry – 6
Curry did all that was expected of him versus Argentina, yet it was far from the youngster’s most impressive outing thus far in Japan.
Sam Underhill – 8
The flanker was a tireless ball of energy, offering himself as a runner on top of his standard high tackle-count and work at the breakdown.
Billy Vunipola – 5
An ankle injury brought an abrupt end to Vunipola’s day, with the number eight’s departure meaning he didn’t quite have the desired impact. Jones will hope Vunipola’s withdrawal came before any serious damage was dealt.
Ben Youngs – 6
Nothing too flashy from Youngs, no trademark snipe from the base, but a competent, disciplined performance that kept his side ticking over.
George Ford – 8 (MOTM)
There had been questions about the Ford-Farrell axis after Jones opted for a more traditional setup in the backline during the Six Nations. No one doubts Ford’s capabilities now, the fly-half orchestrating all of England’s moves in a wonderful display of tactical awareness, creative flare, and slick passing.
Jonny May – 7
May grabbed himself a try and continued to terrorise the Pumas with his lightning turn-of-speed and smart running lines.
Owen Farrell – 6
Farrell was sound on Saturday. In open play, the Saracen linked play well, yet his wayward goal-kicking could be a concern if it isn’t rectified before the knockout rounds begin.
Manu Tuilagi – 6
Having been an unstoppable force of nature in the previous pool matches, Tuilagi failed to match the standards he’d set against the USA and Tonga. Still, he’s always a solid option with the crash-ball.
Anthony Watson – 6
There wasn’t an enormous amount to write home about from Watson. He was a potent weapon in the air, but had limited chances to show his skills with ball-in-hand.
Elliot Daly – 7
England’s top metre-maker, Daly once again demonstrated what he can do when given a run up. A maiden World Cup try capped a fine attacking afternoon for the fullback.
Luke Cowan-Dickie – 6
Another score for the hooker and another example of what he offers off the bench, with the fleet-footed frontman adding impetus on arrival.
Mako Vunipola – 6
It’s great to have Mako back, but we didn’t get an awful lot of action from the injury returnee.
Dan Cole – 6
Like it always is, Cole’s scrummaging was faultless, though again there was little else from the Leicester Tigers man. That’s no issue given his efficiency in the tight.
Courtney Lawes – 7
The giant entered the field of play with the points already secured, his presence in defence making sure that the lead remained a sizeable one.
Lewis Ludlum – 7
Ludlum has happily gone about his business as one of the substitutes, the England newbie yet again doing his future prospects no harm with a highly-physical display.
Willi Heinz – 6
He’s no Ben Youngs, though Heinz continues to keep his side motoring along nicely after being brought on for another cameo.
Henry Slade – 5
It was a quiet afternoon for Slade, who will know he has little chance of displacing Tuilagi or Ford in the starting lineup. He needs to offer more in his brief appearances to really threaten those two.
Jack Nowell – 7
A try and several memorable moments will have given Jones some food for thought heading into the showdown with France and beyond.
By Ed Alexander
The total team rating here is 101, compared to 99 versus USA and 97 versus Tonga. Are England showing steady improvement as the tournament progresses?