After a convincing first 30 minutes from England and moments of sporadic excellence throughout the rest of the game, the national side can take a lot of positives from their 58 – 15 performance against Fiji, although with some troubling setbacks they will want to put right in a week’s time.
Although Mako Vunipola excelled in the loose and Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole were both solid, at scrum time – any front row’s bread and butter – all three struggled against an impressive Fiji outfit. When Joe Marler came on in the second half he again helped to shore up the pack and it seems the Harlequins loosehead is certainly still the better player when it comes to scrummaging – even if the opposition were beginning to tire at that point.
If England had another experienced tighthead to call on then Dan Cole could be facing the axe, but with youngster Kyle Sinckler still very raw and certainly not yet a hardened scrum expert, it would be a huge risk to bring him into the starting line-up against an Argentinian side world renowned for its scrummaging prowess. Sinckler’s carrying though was certainly a highlight of his time on the pitch against Fiji.
In the back row Teimana Harrison failed to grasp on to his opportunity, and very often the opposing players, meaning Tom Wood is likely to come back into the equation in a game where the breakdown battle will be absolutely crucial.
On the left wing, Elliot Daly was impressive against the Fijians and showed his fantastic rugby brain, as well as electric footwork and pace.
Yet he deserves another chance to start at 13 outside Owen Farrell and to continue to develop their centre partnership.
Jonny May’s finish for England’s first try against the Springboks was typical of the man, but also exceptional given his recent recovery from a serious knee injury that has kept him out of all rugby for almost a year. With a back division featuring the pace of May and Daly combined, it will cause the Pumas all sorts of problems.
After an excellent match against the country of his birth, Semesa Rokoduguni needs to start against the Argentinians. He made some mistakes against Fiji, particularly his ‘tunnel vision’ when the tryline was in sight after his scintillating break, but he must surely have done enough to convince England coach Eddie Jones that the Bath winger should start ahead of Marland Yarde.
At fullback, Alex Goode showed what he can offer the England team in his first start for his country under Eddie Jones, but Brown is the kind of reliable hands you want under the high ball and in defence against a side like Argentina.
On the bench, Dave Attwood should return if he recovers from his knee injury, but no other changes to the replacements from the 23 man squad for the Springboks game.
Pundit Arena’s 23 to face Argentina
1) Mako Vunipola
2) Dylan Hartley
3) Dan Cole
4) Joe Launchbury
5) Courtney Lawes
6) Chris Robshaw
7) Tom Wood
8) Billy Vunipola
9) Ben Youngs
10) George Ford
11) Jonny May
12) Owen Farrell
13) Elliot Daly
14) Semesa Rokoduguni
15) Mike Brown
Bench: George, Marler, Sinckler, Attwood/Ewels, Hughes, Care, Te’o, Joseph
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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