Referee decisions key, as England defeat Argentina

5:01 PM GMT

England beat Argentina 27-14 but that scoreline tells little of a match which was packed with incident, controversy and ultimately, courage. Here we look at the key moments in the match and assess their significance as England stretched their winning run to 13 matches.

Elliot Daly is red carded in the fourth minute as Senatore lands on his neck and back

There was an eerie silence as the TMO went through the various angles to show referee Pascal Gauzere Daly’s poorly timed challenge on the Argentina No.8. Gauzere took his time, talked through how Senatore landed on his neck and head and then made his call: red card.

Based on the recent directive from World Rugby which sees greater protection than ever given around any contact with a player’s head, Gauzere had no option but to send Daly off. It was the correct call.

It meant England had to play 75 minutes – it ended up being 82 with the first-half carrying on for what seemed an eternity – with 14 men and meant their gameplan had to shift as they were barely breaking sweat.

England train for these eventualities, also playing 13 men versus 15 so they are ready but even the most prepared team would struggle to envisage playing almost an entire match a man down.

Jonathan Joseph had to cover Daly’s wing and his own outside centre position while Mike Brown slotted into the defensive line on occasion, leaving England without a sweeper at the back.

Argentina should have exploited this with more frequency but Joseph’s work, along with an astonishing work-rate from England’s back-row, meant they covered Daly’s absence.

Estelles takes out May in the air, May lands on his front, but the referee and TMO say just a penalty

Again Gauzere got this call correct. May originally landed on his feet after Estelles’ outstretched arm caught the airborne May. Gauzere again went to the TMO, talked through the various motions in the tackle and awarded England a penalty.

Vunipola takes it on, Robshaw puts the ball out wide towards Wood, but it’s slapped down by Orlando

Gauzere shows Orlando a yellow card and awards England a penalty try. The outstanding Chris Robshaw made this try. Robshaw’s work-rate was through the roof as he chased every kicked ball and what looked to be the odd lost cause.

But his pressure with Tom Wood and Billy Vunipola meant Argentina conceded a turnover close to their tryline. Vunipola forced the turnover, Robshaw got the pass away to the waiting Wood who would have had a walk in for the try but Matias Orlando slapped the ball forward.

Gauzere went for the penalty try and yellow carded the Argentinean winger – again he got this call correct.

What was so impressive here was England’s work-rate and communication.

Robshaw was heroic for England as was the superb Wood while the clarity of their systems meant they knew how to stretch Argentina, a man up, to create the overlap which would have seen Wood score but for the knock-on from Orlando.

Another penalty for Argentina and Dan Cole is sin-binned

The scrum is reset for the seventh time and Facundo Isa scores. The Pumas should have perhaps been awarded a penalty try as England dragged the scrum down time and time again.

Cole was eventually yellow-carded after the sixth reset and 13-man England then conceded to Isa who ducked under flailing arms to score.

As the clock ticked on to the 48th minute in the first half, one which lasted an hour in total, England’s fitness and focus were stretched and eventually the Pumas punished them.

TRY– 50 seconds into the second-half and Argentina are back to their best

This was the most delicious of tries. The Pumas went down the left flank, with wonderful passing and eventually Santiago Cordero goes over under the posts. It was a joy to watch and proof that when Argentina get into their stride, they are a terrifying prospect.

But having seen them stretch the numerically disadvantaged England, you have to ask why Argentina did not adopt this approach more often. England were there for the taking out wide but this was the only time that the Pumas punished them.

At 16-14 it could have been the turning point in the match but instead England re-found their composure and focus.

England make no mistake as they take Argentina apart. May runs in to score down the left.

Ben Youngs, George Ford, Wood and Joseph all played their part in May’s game-clinching score. The try was testament to the work Eddie Jones has done with England’s attack.

His role as attack coach, along with his head coach duties, do not get the same praise but when England had their opportunities, they punished Argentina and Jones deserves praise for his part in turning the team into a side capable of turning opportunities into points.

Pieretto sent off for a stamp while Joe Marler is yellow carded for holding.

Gauzere had no option here but to red card the Pumas’ reserve tight-head for the ugliest of stamps. Marler also correctly yellow carded for his part in holding back Pieretto.

But by this stage the game had finished as a contest and ensured England stretched their winning run to 13 games, 12 coming under Jones.

When England reflect on this match at the end of the year, they will remember a game where this was as much a test of their physical capability as it was mental. Despite having the man down , they stayed together and played brilliantly to see off the Pumas.

This may prove to be the defining match of a year which has already seen them win a Grand Slam and a series in Australia.

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