After an embarrassing exit in the pool phase when it was the tournament host four years ago, England traveled to Japan determined to make sure it wouldn’t happen again at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
England (3-0) avenged its disappointment from four years ago by becoming the first team to secure a spot in the quarterfinal round with a 39-10 win over Argentina in their Pool C game at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.
Conversely, Argentina (1-2), which reached the semifinals in 2015, made its chance of advancing past the preliminary stage a real long shot after a lopsided loss before a crowd of 48,185. France will take on Tonga in Kumamoto on Sunday, and a win will book the Europeans a place in the knockout stage and eliminate the Pumas.
England has posted four or more tries in all three of its games to earn the maximum total of 15 points. After the game, head coach Eddie Jones said that his team is “exactly where we wanted to be.”
“We’ve played in front of a fantastic, crowded Tokyo Stadium,” the ex-Japan national team boss said. “And that’s another great day for the World Cup.”
Argentina got on the scoreboard first with a penalty goal early, but a costly penalty made life difficult for the Pumas. In the 18th minute, hooker Tomas Lavanini was shown the red card by referee Nigel Owens for a high tackle on Owen Farrell, forcing the South Americans to play with 14 men.
England had three first-half tries, two of which came after the Argentina ejection took place, to have a 15-3 lead into halftime.
Jones’ squad extended its lead to 25-3 with another try and a penalty goal by the 55th minute.
Argentina struck back when Matias Moroni ran up the middle for a try in the 71st minute. But that was all the scoring the Pumas could muster.
Argentina allowed two more tries before the game wrapped up.
“Well, obviously after the red card, it became really hard,” Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma said. “We made many easy mistakes that we could have avoided, especially in the second half. We couldn’t build momentum and we were with a guy less. So we needed a clear goal. We had a couple of good plays that we couldn’t play. And obviously, in the second half, it became too hard for the boys.”
Argentina captain Pablo Matera said: “We just kept on going. We kept on fighting and we continued to believe we could win the game but it was obviously not good enough.”
Meanwhile, England seemed to be far from satisfied by just clinching a knockout stage berth, recognizing it has has things to correct in order to advance further in the tournament.
“Scrappy at times,” Farrell said of the contest. “I thought there was a decent amount of control from ourselves but we probably let the game get a bit frantic at times, forced a couple of things and let Argentina into the game at times.”
Argentina faces the United States on Wednesday in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, while England meets France next Saturday in Yokohama in their final pool contests.