Rugby World Cup: England hold on to claim bronze with hard-fought win over Argentina

England have held off a spirited Argentina to win 26-23 in a game of intensity and errors to take third place at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday (NZ time) for a measure of consolation after the huge disappointment of their narrow semi-final defeat last week.

The boot of Owen Farrell proved the difference as both sides scored two tries but the England captain was unerringly accurate as he put over four penalties and two conversions for a tally of 16 points.

Sam Underhill, a late call up to the squad and making his tournament debut, delivered a man of the match performance, making 24 tackles, as he reprised the form that made him one of the star players in England's run to the final four years ago.

"It is a bit surreal. It's been a great few weeks, I've loved being part of this group," he said.

"We just stuck to our game plan, we didn't panic. A lot of the lads know it is the last 20 minutes of these games that matter. We stuck to our plan and that is testament to them."

Santiago Carreras scores for Los Pumas.
Santiago Carreras scores for Los Pumas. Photo credit: Getty Images

Saturday's clash was, of course, the match neither team wanted to be playing in but both coaches said this week that they were giving it the utmost respect and the physicality and commitment from the start showed that the players felt the same way.

Six weeks ago on the opening weekend England recovered from having flanker Tom Curry sent off in the third minute to deliver a totally dominant display in a 27-10 victory over the Pumas.

This time, also after three minutes, Curry, winning his 50th cap after a difficult week with his involvement in accusations of discriminatory language against South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi, stuck his bandaged head and strapped nose straight into a ruck to win the first penalty.

Against a barrage of boos from the largely French crowd, Farrell duly slotted it and the scene was set.

England then scored an excellent try as Farrell and Marcus Smith flicked quick passes for a charging Ben Earl to crash over. Farrell converted and added another penalty for a 13-0 lead.

Argentina's attack was brought up short by too many handling errors but they did eventually string together a sharp move, albeit with what looked a clear forward pass, that finished with halfback Tomas Cubelli squeezing through for a try.

Emiliano Boffelli's conversion and an earlier penalty meant it was 16-10 at the break.

There was an explosive start to the second half as the ever-elusive Santiago Carreras slipped through three England tackles to score under the posts.

The lead lasted less than two minutes, however, as hooker Theo Dan, who was the worst culprit for the try, got immediate revenge by charging down Carreras and picking up to score.

A Boffelli penalty closed the deficit to three and there was then a scruffy 15-minute spell as replacements poured on, kicks went astray and tackles were missed.

It was England, though, turning the screw and it paid off when they earned a scrum penalty that Farrell slotted, only for replacement Nicolas Sanchez to do the same for the Pumas to set up a tense finale.

Having been overhauled by South Africa so heartbreakingly three minutes from the end of their semi-final last week on the same pitch, England found themselves in a similar position as Argentina won a penalty with five minutes left.

However, from far out on the left, Sanchez pulled it wide.

This time England saw out the final minutes and, though the prize was not of remotely the same magnitude


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