England secured their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a game to spare as they brushed aside 14-man Argentina 39-10 at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.
Jonny May had already crossed for the first of England’s six tries when Tomas Lavanini saw red for a high tackle on Owen Farrell in the 17th minute.
The second-row led with the shoulder and also caught the England captain around the neck, leaving referee Nigel Owens with little choice but to send him off.
The dismissal came with the score at 5-3 but effectively ended the clash of the top-tier nations as a contest, with Eddie Jones’ side capitalising on the extra space to run out comfortable winners.
Elliot Daly reached the line despite a juggling act with the ball, while Ben Youngs produced a burst from the base of a ruck before half-time, the scrum-half having also crossed against the Pumas in the 2011 tournament.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 5, 2019
Farrell struggled with his kicking, missing his first four attempts at the posts in the first half to leave the score at 15-3, yet his profligacy off the tee was never going to prove costly in the final reckoning.
The centre did land the extras after George Ford forced his way over from close range and a further penalty made it 25-3 after 53 minutes, raising the possibility of a second-half avalanche of points from England.
Instead they eased up, allowing Argentina to grab a consolation try through Matias Moroni following an excellent line-out move.
Conceding sparked England into life again, though, as substitute Jack Nowell marked his first appearance back from injury with a smart finish in the right corner before the pack carried Luke Cowan-Dickie over the line.
Youngs at heart
Scrum-half Youngs marked his 92nd Test appearance – seeing him overtake Jonny Wilkinson to become the most-capped back for England – with a well-taken try.
Jones’ squad were efficient rather than excellent, as has been the case in the World Cup so far, but it will be a major boost to see Nowell and prop Mako Vunipola – both on as second-half replacements – back in action.
Shouldering the blame
Argentina had fronted up during the first quarter, even taking the lead with a penalty from Benjamin Urdapilleta.
However, Lavanini’s red ruined their hopes of an upset result that would have put the pool back in the balance. Now the Pumas seem certain to be returning home early with their tails between their legs.
Top spot in Pool C will be up for grabs when England take on France in Yokohama next weekend. Argentina, meanwhile, complete their round-robin fixtures by facing the United States on Wednesday.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta