Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Ben Earl scored one of two England tries, as they held on to secure victory vs Argentina in Friday’s World Cup third-place playoff

A disjointed England performance proved just enough to secure third place at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, as they held on to beat Argentina 26-23 at the Stade de France. 

Back-row Ben Earl and hooker Theo Dan scored tries for England in Paris, while skipper Owen Farrell added 16 points off the tee (two conversions, four penalties).

Pumas half-backs Tomas Cubelli and Santiago Carreras scored Argentina’s tries as they responded from 13-0 and 16-3 behind to briefly lead at 17-16, only for Dan’s score to come as a result of a massive Carreras error in being charged down by his own try-line immediately after.

Argentina – Tries: Cubelli (36), S Carreras (42). Cons: Boffelli (37, 43). Pens: Boffelli (24, 50), Sanchez (68).

England – Tries: Earl (8), Dan (44). Cons: Farrell (9, 45). Pens: Farrell (3, 13, 30, 65)

Though Argentina did get back within three points, they wouldn’t lead again as replacement Nicolas Sanchez missed a penalty to bring the match level late on as England ended their topsy-turvy campaign on a high.

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Sky Sports reporter James Cole outlines how England beat Argentina 26-23 in the third-place play-off at the Rugby World Cup

Sky Sports reporter James Cole outlines how England beat Argentina 26-23 in the third-place play-off at the Rugby World Cup

Farrell kicked England into the lead inside three minutes, as Tom Curry jackalled to win a breakdown penalty on the occasion of his 50th cap and after a tough week personally for the flanker, whose allegation of a racist comment against South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi was not taken forward by World Rugby.

A series of Argentina mistakes then granted England more access five minutes later, from where Earl struck as he broke through, sprinting on a brilliant line having been found by Marcus Smith.

Ben Earl scythed in a super line to score the opening try of the contest

Farrell converted, and England’s lead was soon out to 13 points when the skipper punished Pumas scrum-half Cubelli for getting caught on the wrong side, landing another penalty.

A Marcos Kremer-led counter-ruck finally saw Argentina onto the scoreboard in the 24th minute, as Boffelli struck over with England guilty of sealing at the ruck.

Emiliano Boffelli got Argentina belatedly into the game with a 24th minute penalty

Those points were cancelled out just prior to the half-hour mark, however, as Farrell kicked over again following an offside.

Carreras missed touch with Argentina’s next penalty, causing more South American frustration, but within moments they were over for a stunning try, as an attack filled with offloading and carries at pace got the finish it deserved as Cubelli ducked and sniped to score.

Argentina’s Tomas Cubelli grounded for a brilliant team try

Boffelli converted to bring the Pumas within six points leading into half-time, and less than two minutes into the second period, Carreras stepped and raced in under the posts for the lead after a Ben Youngs error had handed Argentina the ascendency.

Santiago Carreras broke through to score early in the second half, as the Pumas briefly led

The lead lasted a matter of seconds, however, as Carreras went from hero to villain under pressure from England’s Dan in the 22 after the restart, with the hooker grounding after charging down the fly-half’s attempted clearance for a real soft try in reply.

Theo Dan’s try after charging down Carreras proved pivotal

Farrell’s close-range conversion restored England’s six-point lead, but Boffelli nailed a long-range penalty in the 50th minute after a horribly skewed Henry Arundell kick saw England’s forwards caught offside, to bring the Pumas within three.

A hooked Smith clearance kick gave Argentina another key opportunity, but they could not add further points through 17 phases of attack after Boffelli broke into the 22, as England’s Sam Underhill won a crucial penalty.

A scrum penalty allowed Farrell to kick England’s lead back out to six, but Sanchez soon responded off the tee after an England offside.

England skipper Owen Farrell kicked solidly off the tee in victory

With five minutes left, Sanchez had the chance to draw Argentina level, but hooked wide from five metres infield.

Argentina had one last chance to claim victory when wing Mateo Carreras produced a stirring break, but their desperate attack in a decent scoring zone ultimately proved unfruitful.

Dan: We’re a team which grinds out the result; Farrell: I’m proud we found way to win

England try-scorer Theo Dan, speaking to ITV:

“We made it hard for ourselves. We got off to a really good start, we would have hoped we would have pushed on from the first 20, but we know Argentina are a team which are never going to go away.

“Our ill-discipline let them back into the game, but we’re a team that grinds out the result, and I’m proud to be part of this team and pleased to get the bronze.

“We’re incredibly disappointed and heartbroken about what happened last weekend. The performance we put out was one we can be proud of and we said we didn’t want that to be a one-off.

“We want to build, we want to be a new England team – one which doesn’t go away and grinds out results. Today was a step forward to achieving that.”

England captain Owen Farrell, speaking to ITV:

“I’m proud we found a way to win. I thought we started the game well, but it was a scrappy old game after that as everyone could see.

“But on the back of another six-day turnaround and a narrow loss last week, I thought it was a great effort tonight.

“You have to be able to play rugby a few different ways and we’re developing that. We’re getting better and hopefully this team keeps improving – I know it will.

“We’ve had a proper crack at this tournament and I’m proud of the effort the lads put in.”

What’s next?

The victory means England finish third at a Rugby World Cup for the first time in their history. They end their campaign having topped Pool D after wins over Argentina, Japan, Chile and Samoa, before beating Fiji 30-24 in the quarter-finals and losing 16-15 late on against South Africa in the semi-finals.

England are next in action at the 2024 Six Nations, when they travel to face Italy in Round 1 on Saturday February 3.

The defeat means Argentina finish fourth at a Rugby World Cup for the second time in their history, after the 2015 World Cup in England. They end their campaign having finished second in Pool D after defeat to England and victories over Samoa, Chile and Japan, before beating Wales 29-17 in the quarter-finals and losing 44-6 against New Zealand in the semi-finals.

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