STAR PREVIEW: England v Argentina

England have already played and won two of their pool games but now the Rugby World Cup really begins for them as they face Argentina in Tokyo. Eddie Jones’ side have opened up with two comfortable wins against Tonga and the USA which have provided them with a chance to give game time to much of the squad and also build up some momentum, but now they face two Tier 1 sides in succession in a bid to reach the quarter-finals.

Their opener against Tonga was a satisfactory one, even if it did take Jones’ men some time to really stretch clear of their opponents, with Manu Tuilagi by far the most effective attacking player as England had to fight until the 77th minute to seal the bonus point in a performance where the Islanders gave a lot of strong resistance.

Things were easier against the USA when a changed side eased to a 45-7 victory, with the only blemish a chaotic late try after the Americans had been reduced to 14 men. Wing Joe Cokanasiga plundered two tries on that occasion as England managed to find gaps with more aplomb, but Eddie Jones has reverted to the side that played Tonga, almost without exception.

Two big additions are the return of Jack Nowell on the wing and Mako Vunipola coming onto the bench after injury, giving Jones a full strength selection.

It will be much harder to face Argentina, though. One can put a negative spin on their opening defeat to France but they came back from 20-3 down to be in with a realistic chance of winning that encounter on multiple occasions in the second half before Emiliano Boffelli’s long-range penalty drifted just wide and it would be unwise to take a direct formline through their 28-12 win to Tonga.

Argentina may not have created as much out wide as Mario Ledesma would have hoped for but their pack dominance saw hooker Julian Montoya notch a hat-trick and it’s worth noting that the Tonga pack did give the same Englishmen that will start tomorrow plenty to think about during their opener.

Tonga were especially effective at nullifying Billy Vunipola for long areas of time, with England’s fearsome Number 8 making just the 37 meters in that opener, so England should not rest on their laurels about a head to head battle in the pack.

Out wide, Argentina have struggled more, however, and the response to what was seen as a lack of fluency against Tonga was to drop fly-half Nicolas Sanchez from their 23-man squad for the first time in three years. Sanchez has not missed a World Cup or Rugby Championship game since 2016, when he was injured, so there’s a lot resting on the shoulders of Benjamin Urdapilleta.

England v Argentina
Rugby World Cup 2019
Pool C, Tokyo Stadium
Saturday October 5 09:00 Kick-Off (UK Time)

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches, Since 2000)
NOV 2017 AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS England 21-8 Argentina
JUN 2017 ENGLAND TOUR OF ARGENTINA Argentina 25-35 England
JUN 2017 ENGLAND TOUR OF ARGENTINA Argentina 34-38 England
NOV 2016 AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS England 27-14 Argentina
NOV 2013 AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS England 31-12 Argentina
JUN 2013 ENGLAND TOUR OF ARGENTINA England 32-3 Argentina
JUN 2013 ENGLAND TOUR OF ARGENTINA England 32-3 Argentina
SEP 2011 RUGBY WORLD CUP England 13-9 Argentina

It will please Eddie Jones that England have only conceded nine points in two games, but with running threats such as Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, and Jeronimo de la Fuente, the English defence is sure to be tested far more than previously.

In this year’s Six Nations England did keep things tight as a general rule but Scotland proved they can still be porus by coming from 31 points down to take a draw at Twickenham and this might not be as easy as the markets suggest. England should prove too good for the Argentinians, but their winning margins in the last four meetings read 13-4-10 and 13 points, and maybe the Argentinians can stay within that margin again on a two way handicap.

In the other markets, the 11/1 that Manu Tuilagi breaks the deadlock is too big to resist. Tuilagi was by far England’s biggest threat against Tonga when he was the first scorer, is likely to be used to hit the Pumas defence early, and it’s worth noting that against France, a centre (Gael Fickou) scored the first try from a set move. Jones has used a ton of them and if conditions are too humid for big side to side attacks, Tuilagi’s power will count even more.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Argentina +15.5 on 2-way Handicap 5 pts at 21/20 with starsports.bet
BACK Manu Tuilagi 1st Tryscorer 1 pt at 11/1 with starsports.bet


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