England embraced the role of victim to surprise Argentina (27-10) and rise from its ashes, after a year with three wins in nine games, with a stagnant game and overwhelming defeats against France or Fiji in London. It was not a display of virtues, but of efficiency, a considerable merit because he played 77 minutes with one less. It was the great night of George Ford: the opening that paid the price for the English elimination early in their World Cup, in 2015, gave a lesson in placement and kicking, in the style of Jonny Wilkinson, the architect of the only English title -and of the northern hemisphere – in 2003 between diabolical kicks.
The Argentines choked on their favoritism and did not appear, unable to understand what the duel required, to adapt their speech. They gave in again to the rival who got them off in Tokyo from the last World Cup in one of the worst performances in their recent history. Endless indiscipline in all areas that lowers their candidacy when they started with a historic opportunity in the easy part of the box. Now it is England, responding to his announced death, the one who dreams of a group in which the Albiceleste qualification for the quarterfinals is not a formality at all against teams like Samoa or Japan.
It was an unexpected outcome. Because England had everything against them, with the sanctions of their captain, Owen Farrell, and Billy Vunipola, their best ball carrier, plus the clumsiness of Tom Curry, one of the architects of the finalist team in 2019, who was uncontrolled when landing by Juan Cruz Mallía in the third minute. A spectacular face-to-face blow that the referee sanctioned with a conditional yellow – the player meets the theoretical 10 minutes apart, a time that the video judge uses to rule if it is red – to later send him to the locker room, the fourth expulsion of the XV of the Rose since March. The public at the Vélodrome, mostly English, whistled at Santiago Carreras when he returned to the field after a yellow card for jumping on Ford.
Rugby was what happened between punishing blows, the verb of a rough duel, without cadence. In those, the game at the foot was a necessary shortcut to gain meters, taking advantage of the regulation, the 50:22 law, which allows the team that kicks from their own field to keep the ball that bounces in the opponent’s 22 zone and goes out through the band. Argentina achieved it, which touched the try with its forward, but Tomás Gallo posed after a double movement. At the restart, their team pounced on their tackled teammate to prevent England from recovering the oval. Lost opportunity in a game in which there were not many of them.
The Pumas were beginning to get frustrated because they were not generating width to assert their superiority. England soon understood what she needed, a war in the trenches. Do not aspire to successes as much as to avoid errors. And she found George Ford as a sniper. His teammates took advantage of the white and blue failures to plant their pieces in the rival field and, without great ambitions, throw the ball back so that their opening team looked for the sticks with their feet. He scored three in eight minutes – the second from the middle of the field – and his team comfortably dominated at the break (12-3). Santiago Carreras wanted to reply, but his drop did not hit the target.
Ford’s success dislocated the Argentine defense, alarmed to the point of losing order. There was no reaction after the return to the locker room, but an anarchic line that fell offside and offered one propitious kick after another: now simpler, from set pieces.
Fouls not only cost points, but also territory and possession. The XV de la Rosa did not need to take risks, it was enough for them to move the ball away and wait for gifts. They had already won the psychological battle with a lead that the guy left in coverage, giving the feeling that they were the ones who had one more player. The fans chanted each Albiceleste foul as a goal and Ford, who kicked nine times between the posts, was pumped. Rodrigo Bruni’s final essay was simple makeup.
It was the end of a day with high scores that began in Saint-Étienne with Italy’s victory over Namibia (52-8) and continued in Bordeaux with Ireland’s corrective defeat of Romania (82-8), to which they endorsed 12 trials . Georgia did not live up to its revelation poster and could not stand up to Australia, which dominated from start to finish in Paris (35-15).
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