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Argentina 23-26 England: England beat the Pumas to win the Rugby World Cup bronze medal match

Argentina 23-26 England: England beat the Pumas to win the Rugby World Cup bronze medal match

  • Written by Mike Henson
  • BBC Sport at the Stade de France

video caption, Rugby World Cup: England narrowly beat Argentina to take World Cup bronze

Rugby World Cup: Argentina x England

Try: Copelli, Carreras pencil: Bovelli 2, Sanchez; cons: Bovelly 2

Try: Earl, Dan pencil: Farrell 4; cons: Farrell 2

England completed their Rugby World Cup campaign with a victory, narrowly edging out Argentina's proud performance in the third-place play-off in Paris.

Ben Earl slipped in as England took an early 13-0 lead, but Argentina found their way back and briefly took the lead through tries from Tomas Cubelli and Santiago Carrera, before England's Theo Dunne headed home a cross kick.

Owen Farrell's boot kept England's noses in front as he exchanged penalties with Nicolas Sanchez in a tense finale.

Backed by a faithful crowd, Argentina launched a late attack on England's line but Sanchez converted a penalty to equalize, allowing Steve Borthwick's side to end France 2023 with a win.

After looking like they were on the verge of victory early on, there was huge relief among the England players as the final whistle blew.

This means that England's campaign ends as it began. Seven weeks ago, they beat the Pumas 27-10 in the heat of Marseille.

Three minutes into that game, in 77 minutes without Tom Curry being sent off and with five defeats in the previous six games behind them, things looked bleak for England.

But they clawed their way to victory on that occasion to start their campaign, which came three minutes and one point after beating South Africa in the semi-final to reach the final of the tournament on Saturday.

Several of England's young players pressed their cases for future inclusion in a match free of knockout pressure, but of a higher quality than the team's previous encounter.

Hooker Dunne impressed with his energy and appetite for work, while Marcus Smith was enterprising and assertive in attack, even if not all of his ideas came to fruition.

There has been speculation that Henry Arundel, who scored five tries in the pool match over Chile, might challenge the national record of six tries in a single World Cup, set by Chris Ashton in 2011, or even rival the best player in this edition. Will Jordan, who crossed eight times in total, scores.

However, he did not touch the ball once in the first half and missed a penalty when given space for the first time in the second half.

England was drawn into fierce fighting

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Santiago Carreras crossed early in the second half to have Argentina sweating on England for the win

They may have finished the game under pressure, but England started the game in brilliant style. Carey led his team to celebrate his 50th international match, and after a difficult week dominated by accusations of receiving a racist insult during the defeat to South Africa in the semi-finals, Carey set his tone from the first whistle.

The 25-year-old quelled a collapse in the second minute to force a penalty which Farrell had no problem converting into three points.

Earl, another of England's stars during the campaign, crossed for the first try on eight minutes, picking out a brilliant lineout from Smith to beat a drifting defense after good work from hooker Dunne.

And when Farrell scored another penalty to make it 13-0 a few minutes later, it looked like the same Pumas who featured in the semi-final against New Zealand might have returned to the Stade de France.

But, supported by the home fans who sang “Allez les Bleus” in honor of their new shirt, Argentina found some resistance late on.

After calling a penalty from inside the box and turning it back on the set-piece, Emiliano Bovelli wisely chose to take the points from the next similar opportunity.

Scrum-half Copelli raced through a forest of legs from close range just before half-time to cut England's lead to six points.

The second half began with a quick exchange of converted attempts, with Dunne at the heart of the action at both ends.

The England hooker was brushed aside by Carreras as the Argentine fly-half showed the speed that has earned him a place on the wing with Gloucester in previous seasons.

Two minutes later, Carreras missed a clearing kick to allow Dunne to pounce, rally and retaliate and restore England's lead to 23-17.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, England substitutes were quick to congratulate Theo Dunne after the Saracens scored in the second half

Argentina felt England were still shaky but Bovelli's penalty made it three points.

Earl came up with a crucial turnover deep in his own territory that left Argentina coach Michael Checa hitting the furniture of the training box in frustration with referee Nick Perry's ruling at the collapse.

Cheika was similarly unimpressed as the referee awarded a huge penalty against his side which Farrell happily converted to take a 26-20 lead.

Sanchez got England back, but when his side were awarded a 75th-minute penalty outside England's 22-metre line, he opted for the posts – and a shot to tie the game – rather than take a corner kick and chase. Try to win the match.

It was a decision he probably came to regret as his kick stayed off the stick and the touch officials' flags remained by their side.

There was still time for Argentina to make English hearts flutter in the stands. Juan Martin Gonzalez raced into space down one wing, before George Ford bravely stopped a rampaging Mateo Carreras down the other.

This is the first time that England, winners in 2003 and runners-up in 1991, 2007 and 2019, have finished third in the Rugby World Cup.

England's only previous appearance in a bronze medal match – against France in 1995 – ended in a 19-9 defeat.

It ensures that Ben Youngs, England's most capped player, will walk away with a medal after 127 Tests, even if it is not the color he would have wanted before the tournament.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Ben Youngs thanked the England fans after receiving his medal

What did they say

England coach Steve Borthwick: “It was not an incredibly high quality match but it was a match full of high tension. Huge credit to Argentina for the way they played and the way they went through this tournament. You can see that both teams have progressed through this tournament and even though it was Also “in classic free-flowing rugby, it was close.”

England scrum-half Ben Youngs after playing his last Test match: “The game has given me so much. I have huge friendships and bonds not only in the England national team, but also with people I have played against for years.

“I have a whole bunch of memories and I'm so grateful, so thank you all. I'm going to have a beer and have fun with the boys tonight.”

Argentina coach Michael Cheika: “We didn't get the final result on a lot of things but we stayed in the game. I'm disappointed with the way he managed the game and the consistency. I feel good for the players because they deserved more than they got.” from today.”

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, England finished the World Cup with six wins in seven matches

Formations

England: Smith; Steward, Marchant, Tuilagi, Arundel; Farrell (Captain), Youngs; Genji, Dan, Stuart, Itoje, Chisum, Carey, Underhill, Earl.

Replacements: Ford for Tuilagi (56), Lawrence for Arundel (66), Kerr for Young (51), Rod for Genji (50), George for Dan (54), Cole for Stuart (50), Rebans for Chisum (70), Ludlam Curry (50).

Argentina: Financially. Bovelli, Cinti, de la Fuente, M. Carreras; S. Carreras, Copelli; Gallo, Montoya (captain), Kudela, Bajadizabal, Rubiolo, Gonzalez, Kremer, Issa.

Replacements: Morrone for Cinte Luna (47), Sanchez for Carreras (56), Velez for Cubelli (51), Sclavi for Gallo (66), Crevi for Montoya (56), Bello for Gomez Kudela (61), Alemanno instead of Rubiolo. 66), Bruni Laissa (47).

to rule: Nick Perry (Australia)

Helpers: Andrew Bryce (Ireland) and Nika Amashukele (Georgia)

Tmo: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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