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Dublin: 11°C Monday 19 April 2021
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Send us your thoughts and reaction on this morning’s action.

E-mail niall@thescore.ie, tweet us @thescore_ie, find us on Facebook, or leave a comment below.

FT: Argentina 9-13 England

Morning all. Where have you been for the last seven hours? What do you mean you didn’t see Scotland scrape past Romania, Fiji trump Namibia, and Japan go down fighting against France? What type of a rugby fan do you call yourself?

Never mind, you’re here now and that’s all that matters. We’re 15 minutes away from kick-off in Otago Stadium, Dunedin, as England try to prove that they are the northern hemisphere’s best hope of glory.

Team news is coming very shortly. Stay put.

Argentina: Rodriguez; Camacho, Tiesi, Fernandez, Agulla; Contepomi, Vergallo; Roncero, Ledesma, Figallo; Carizza, Albacete; Cabello, Leguizamon, Lobbe.

England: Foden; Ashton, Tuilagi, Tindall, Armitage; Wilkinson, Wigglesworth; Sheridan, Thompson, Cole; Deacon, Lawes; Croft, Haskell, Easter.

Fun fact, sports fans. The name Dunedin comes from Dùn Èideann which is the Scots Gaelic name for Edinburgh. So there.

The teams are out and it’s national anthem time.

Any predictions (for the match, rather than the anthems)? The handicap is only 13 points in England’s favour — can they become the first team to beat the spread?

Showtime! Referee Bryce Lawrence gets us underway.

England are of course wearing their controversial all-black strip. If I momentarily refer to them as New Zealand, please forgive me. It’s an easy mistake to make.

An early chance for Argentina. They kick to the corner after England are penalised for a rather foolish offside at the breakdown.

The Pumas are camped on the English line here. Contepomi is held up just short and then Cabello is blocked as he tries to dive over the top of the pile. So close.

There was a penalty advantage to Argentina for offside, so play comes back to give Contepomi a chance to open the scoring.

PENALTY! (Contempomi, 6′) No mistakes by the out-half, and just reward for Argentina’s lively start. Argentina 3-0 England

Bryce Lawrence is not happy at all. He hauls English captain Mike Tindall aside and points out that England have conceded three penalties in four minutes. “No more,” is the instruction.

MISSED PENALTY! (Rodriguez, 8′) The full-back has a chance to stretch Argentina’s lead. His long-range kick at goal has the legs but it drifts just right and wide at the very last minute.

Argentinian loosehead Rodrigo Roncero is penalised for a high tackle on an advancing Ben Foden. This one is well within Jonny Wilkinson’s range.

PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 10′) A beautiful kick by Wilkinson, who takes his personal World Cup tally to 252 points. Argentina 3-3 England

A very indisciplined start by England, who concede another penalty on the half-way line for not rolling away. Contepomi and Rodriguez have the class to punish those kind of mistakes. The full-back is lining this one up from distance…

MISSED PENALTY! (Rodriguez, 17′) Another chance passed up by the Pumas. I wonder if they’ll start kicking to touch from that range from now on.

MISSED PENALTY! (Contepomi, 19′) Now it’s Chris Ashton’s turn to concede a penalty, which Johnno thinks was a bit soft judging by his reaction.

This one is definitely kickable, but Contempomi starts it right and it never drifts back in.

“Mike, this has got to improve” is Bryce Lawrence’s latest instruction to Tindall. There’s a yellow card coming.

No sooner than I have the words typed, then Andrew Sheridan concedes another needless penalty for going in off his feet at the breakdown. He escapes a sin-binning, but the next offender is surely going to go.

PENALTY! (Rodriguez, 21′) Finally, the Pumas make England pay. There are only 20 minutes gone, but Martin Rodriguez is 1 from 3 already this afternoon. His kick makes it Argentina 6-3 England.

All Argentina in the opening quarter.

That’s the first good spell of play by England. They look threatening as they work the ball through the phases and make their way into Argentinian territory. Tindall is isolated in the ruck though and Argentina turn the ball over and clear their lines excellently. That’s given them a huge lift.

Wonderful break from England, sparked by Ben Foden who took an excellent line and picked up about 40 yards. His offload finds Delon Armitage out on the wing but he’s held up short of the line.

Argentina are penalised for not rolling away, but Wilkinson turns down the points and kicks to the corner instead. England could really do with a try to settle the nerves here.

Uh oh. Bad news for Argentina. Contepomi never recovered from an early knock and he’s gone off to be replaced by Marcelo Bosch. If that’s serious, it could be a big blow to the Pumas’ hopes of getting out of Pool B.

MISSED PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 30′) Well, there’s a collector’s item. Argentina’s scrum collapses under pressure not far from their own line, leaving Wilkinson with the kind of kick he’d make 999 times out of 1,000. Somehow, inexplicably, he drags it across the face of the posts.

YELLOW CARD! (Cole, 35′) Nobody can say that wasn’t coming. Cole concedes England’s eighth — EIGHTH — penalty of the first half, and Bryce Lawrence isn’t in a forgiving mood.

MISSED PENALTY! (Rodriguez, 36′) The penalty is a long way out, which forces Rodriguez to sacrifice accuracy for distance. He’s now 1 from 4 for kicks at goal.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — at some stage, it has to make sense to start kicking to the corner, no?

A big (but fair) hit from Courtney Lawes has left Tiesi on the ground in quite a bit of pain. He’s helped off the field as well, with 23-year-old Juan Imhoff on to replace him in the centre.

Mario Ledesma is some warrior. The Argentinian hooker looked to be out cold after Courtney Lawes accidentally caught him with a knee to the head in the tackle. After about 60 seconds of treatment though, he’s back on his feet, bossing his team-mates.

Less than a minute to half-time. Johnno will be glad to hear that whistle.

HALF-TIME: Argentina 6-3 England

And there is the whistle. What do you make of that? Send in your thoughts, I’ll be back in a minute or two.

From Dave O’M over on Facebook: “The English game plan is screwed, the ref is catching their offsides.”

It’s as good an explanation as any, to be fair.

Declan has been in touch via the comments section. Here’s his take on the first half:

It’s a war of attrition. Argentina could run out of players if this keeps up. The Pumas have missed a lot of opportunities and England intent on spoiling.

I wouldn’t disagree with too much of that. We’re set up nicely for a cracking second half.

And we’re back underway. To have been a fly on the wall of the English dressing room during the break…

Wonderful start by the Pumas as Rodriguez races towards the line. He’s held up and isolated by the English defence though and is eventually penalised for holding the ball on the ground.

Argentina’s substitutes Bosch and Imhoff combine excellently in another break, but again they come up just short, Ben Foden making the crucial tackle for England.

They’ve a penalty for offside coming to them though.

PENALTY! (Rodriguez, 45′) No mistake this time by the full-back and Argentina get their reward for a rip-roaring start to the second half. Argentina 9-3 England

MISSED PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 46′) Argentina infringe almost immediately just inside their own half and England have a chance to respond immediately. It’s by no means an easy kick, but Jonny is the man you’d want standing over it. He doesn’t quite catch it though and it drops to the right and wide.

MISSED PENALTY! (Rodriguez, 48′) There’s a little bit of panic creeping in to England’s play. Hooker Steve Thompson takes the ball into contact but finds himself friendless and ends up conceding a penalty for holding on on the ground.

Rodriguez misses — again. Argentina could be, and should be, out of sight at this stage.

Johnno makes his first change, and it’s at scrum-half: Ben Youngs is on to replace Richard Wigglesworth.

MISSED PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 51′) Argentina are starting to lose the run of themselves at the breakdown now. They’re penalised for going in off their feet and Wilkinson has another chance to cut the deficit to three. His effort can’t have been far off target, but the touch judges’ flags stay down.

When was the last time Jonny Wilkinson missed three consecutive penalties in a game? Very uncharacteristic of him.

This is getting ridiculous. England’s front row collapses — I think Andrew Sheridan was the guilty party this time — and Rodriguez has another very kickable penalty.

MISSED PENALTY! (Rodriguez, 58′) What is wrong with Martin Rodriguez? He’s now two from seven — stats I’d nearly expect myself to get without too much trouble.

I’m going to put the liveblog on auto-pilot for the next while. I’ll just set it to repeat “silly penalty” and “shocking kick” at two or three minute intervals.

Twenty minutes to play in Dunedin. I don’t think there’s any real fear of England not qualifying from their pool, but there is a very real danger that they could lose this game. Argentina’s profligacy could yet be their downfall though.

Argentina penalised for hands in the ruck. So, as Jack Nicholson once said, “here’s Jonny.”

MISSED PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 65′) I’m convinced that’s a record for Wilkinson. He’s missed four out of five, and that one wasn’t even close. Words fail me.

Finally, somebody somewhere sees some sense. Gonzalo Camacho is penalised for dangerous play after a hybrid dump tackle on Ben Foden. Every English supporter around the world holds their breath as we wait on Jonny Wilkinson. Thankfully, he kicks to the corner.

And no, smartarses, he wasn’t aiming for the posts.

TRY! (Youngs, 67′) Finally, the breakthrough comes for England, and it’s substitute scrum-half Ben Youngs who breaks the deadlock. England’s sustained pressure pays off as he whips around off the back of a ruck to dot down underneath the posts.

Not even Wilkinson is missing that conversion, and England take a one-point lead with 12 minutes to play. Argentina 9-10 England

MISSED PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 70′) In his defence, that wasn’t an easy kick. But the fact remains that he has now landed one penalty from six attempts.

PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 75′) A huge, huge scrum by the English front row and by Dan Cole in particular forces a practically unmissable penalty for Wilkinson. This one splits the posts and England lead by four.

Have they just about done enough to get over the line? Argentina 9-13 England

Take a bow, Ben Youngs. The scrum-half flights a perfectly weighted kick into Chris Ashton’s path and as the English support swarms in, Agulla plays the ball on the ground and concedes a needless penalty.

England kick to the corner as they try to kill the game. Three minutes to play.

Under the watchful eye of Youngs, the ball is worked the whole width of the pitch. Delon Armitage nearly gets over in the corner, but there’s simply no space and he puts his foot in touch.

Thirty seconds on the clock and Argentina break into English territory. Juan Imhoff tries to chase his own chip, but he is pulled down by Manu Tuilagi. It’s a penalty from where I’m sitting, but Bryce Lawrence waves it away.

Final play. Argentina on England’s ten metre line. Only a try will do.

And they can’t do it. The Pumas are penalised for holding the ball on the ground, and that’s that.

FULL TIME: Argentina 9-13 England

Felipe Contepomi: “We were competitive, but we didn’t take the chances when we could.

I think it was a good performance and hopefully we can build on this.

England captain Mike Tindall: “We were under no illusions about what Argentina can bring.

“Full credit to them, when they have the ball, they control it very well.

But then Youngsy came on and changed the game. We got a little bit of tempo in there and got the try.

“That’s one thing that I’ll give the team credit for, their composure.”

Well, it might not have been the best quality game of rugby I’ve ever watched, but it was certainly entertaining.

England have a lot to work on, particularly their discipline at the breakdown, but a win is a win and that should be their hardest pool game out of the way.

I didn’t quite catch who the official Man of the Match was, but if it’s anyone other than Ben Youngs, it’s a travesty. The young scrum-half was only on the pitch for a half-hour, but he changed the game completely with plenty of quick ball and excellent decision-making.

The less said about both sides’ kicking, the better.

Argentina were three from nine for kicks at goal, a figure that wasn’t exactly helped by the injury which forced Contepomi off early in the first half.

Jonny Wilkinson finished the day with a personal tally of three from eight which, by his standards, is almost unthinkable. I’m still struggling to figure it out.

There’ll be a few loose ends to be tied up after this one as well. Courtney Lawes could find himself cited for leading with the knee in the tackle that left Ledesma on his back towards the end of the first half.

And someone in the TV van might need to work on the on-pitch mike levels after James Haskell was quite clearly heard calling one of his opponents a “f***ing c**t” as the final whistle went. Haskell felt that his eye had been gouged – could be another citing there as well?

That’s it from me and from the Rugby World Cup for today. I’ll be back in the morning for South Africa v Wales, but before that, Conor’s back on duty at 4.30am for Australia v Italy, followed by the big one — Ireland v USA at 7am.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep checking in for more news, views and reaction from New Zealand throughout the day.

Nearly lunchtime – where does the day go, eh?

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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