England‘s opening autumn international ended in the victory all of Twickenham expected, but the route to the result was a meandering amble rather than anything riotously uplifting.
A try in each half by Fijian-born recruits Nathan Hughes and Semesa Rokoduguni made the difference, along with some woeful goal-kicking by the Pumas, and though England were never remotely in danger of losing, Dylan Hartley’s men will hope and expect to be slicker and more penetrative when they host their old rivals Australia here next Saturday.
England had rested Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje, giving Henry Slade a rare starting chance at inside centre and a second cap at openside flanker to Sam Underhill.
England vs Argentina player ratings
While Itoje sat in the West Stand alongside team manager Richard Hill, Farrell was deployed as a high-powered water boy, ferrying drinks and possibly instructions to the England players.
If ever a match that some could have done without in this cluttered season was an opportunity knocking for someone, it was for Underhill.
The 21-year-old who joined Bath from the Ospreys in the summer is a human jack-hammer, and his first tackle on centre Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias was a typical effort combining accurate technique with pile-driving power to stop the opponent dead in his tracks.
Ford was hit and miss from the tee (AFP)
The most recent of Argentina’s four wins in the previous 22 meetings between these sides had come in Salta in 2009 – which was also the last occasion England wore their traditional white kit in the fixture.
Here the home team were garbed in dark grey which for the most part was a colour match for the skies overhead on a chilly afternoon.
Much more importantly, both teams knew they would not meet again until a Pool C match at the next World Cup in Tokyo on 5 October 2019, where they will be in a group with France, Tonga and the USA, and only two can qualify for the quarter-finals.