Zen master points automaton Jonny Wilkinson had a hard to believe off day with his place kicking. Fortunately for the White Orcs, temporarily decked in black, so did Dr Phil and full back Rodriguez. Argentina missed most of their kicks before England did and it is difficult to see how England would have come back from a 12 point second half deficit. There have been a lot of missed kicks so far in this tournament and it will be interesting to see if kickers get more used to the new Gilbert ball as the games progress.
This match played out as previewed, a serious arm wrestle. Argentina were very strong at ruck time, the adjective beefy best describing their physicality. They don’t have the guile and attacking strength they had at the last World Cup but regular competition in the Tri (Quad?) Nations and a higher profile for rugby should provide a stream of hardened, talented players and see the Pumas become regular quarter finalists in future World Cups. It is heartening to see that countries still play a discernible national style, particularly in light of the many generic matches played during last year’s football Mundial. Felipe went off with a rib injury. Typical of the man, he was strapped heavily only minutes before the incident but took the ball hard and flat to the line at the next opportunity. The injury may prevent him from starting again at this World Cup. The Mole salutes his bronca, viva Dr Phil!
England looked very ordinary for most of this match, with lateral back play and pedestrian attack. Wigglesworth is a smooth passer but there was a distinct lift in tempo when Youngs arrived after 50 minutes. Nonetheless, the win is enough for now and no one will relish a match against England. Manu Tuilagi has become a very important player and his strength and enthusiasm stood out. A very one paced back row is crying for a genuine openside and it is hard to believe that a team with Lewis Deacon in it will win the World Cup. As noted before, a favourable draw should see them into the semi-finals but Scotland will be quietly confident of giving the Aul Enemy a rattle in the last pool match.