England 13 Argentina 9
England used its get out of jail card to defeat a gallant Argentina 13-9 in Dunedin last night.
Under the new roofed stadium, the match was absorbing, and an arm wrestle, and for much of the game England was inept and devoid of any ideas.
Argentina will be kicking itself it ended up on the wrong end of the scorebaord.
It missed six penalty attempts and led for much of the game. The goalkicking all round was poor with 11 shots missed by both teams.
Backed by a loud and heaving crowd of supporters who turned the stadium into what felt like a Boca Juniors home game, Argentina played with great emotion and came close to scoring a five pointer on a couple of occasions.
England on the other hand, ran across field, gave away countless penalties in the first half, lacked imagination in attack and was sloppy when it tried to move the ball.
Their new look black jerseys were even worse than the English effort, with the numbers falling off the back.
England only showed some semblance of ability when replacement halfback Ben Youngs came on with half an hour left.
He started putting in some fine kicks and then scored the only try of the game which ultimately decided the match.
With just over 10 minutes left, England swung on to attack and after a couple of forward drives, Youngs sprinted through a gap to score. Jonny Wilkinson added the conversion to put England ahead for the first time in the game.
Wilkinson added a penalty with seven minutes left to secure the win.
But England will be doing plenty of soul-searching after this effort.
They were out-passioned, totally one-dimensional and will have to take several steps up to be considered a threat in the tournament.
The Argentinians were the dominant side for the first 40 minutes, and should have been ahead by more than 6-3 at the break.
Veteran No 10 Felipe Contepomi started like a young colt, taking the English front line on and he was greately missed when he left the field after 25 minutes.
Best for the Argentians was No 8 Juan martin Fernandez Lobbe while the veteran hooker Mario Ledesma Arocena was as sound as ever.
Out the back midfielder Santiago Fernandez did nothing wrong and halfback Nicholas Vergallo was nippy around the rucks.
Lock Courtney Lawes tried hard for England but it was a rusty effort by the men in black.
- OTAGO DAILY TIMESBy Stephen Hepburn of Otago Daily Times