In a thrilling conclusion to the World Rugby Championship, England secured the silver medal by defeating a determined Argentina with a final score of 26-23. This victory, though somewhat bittersweet, came on the heels of a heartbreaking loss in the semi-finals the previous week. Both teams fought valiantly, but it was the precision of England’s captain, Owen Farrell, that proved to be crucial. Farrell scored four penalty goals and converted two tries, accumulating a total of 16 points. Nicolas Sanchez of the Pumas missed a late penalty kick that could have equalized the match.
Sam Underhill, an English wing forward who joined the team late and made his tournament debut in this match, was declared the standout player of the game with an impressive 24 tackles. He described the experience as somewhat surreal.
Despite not being the match either team aspired to play, it was conducted with the utmost respect, as coaches had emphasized earlier in the week. The players’ commitment was evident from the outset, reflecting their shared camaraderie.
Six weeks ago, in the tournament opener, England had dominated Argentina with a score of 27-10. However, this encounter proved to be significantly more competitive. Amidst the roars of the French audience, Farrell opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the third minute. England extended their lead with a brilliant effort orchestrated by Farrell and Marcus Smith, resulting in a try by Ben Earl. Successful conversions by Farrell and an additional penalty kick pushed the score to 13-0.
Argentina’s offensive was hindered by several handling errors. However, they executed a clever play that led to Tomas Cubelli scoring a try, despite a clear forward pass. Conversions by Emiliano Boffelli and another penalty, along with one more penalty by Farrell, brought the score to 16-10 at halftime.
The second half started with excitement as Santiago Carreras evaded three English tackles to score a try. However, England’s Theo Dan quickly responded with a try of his own, reclaiming the lead briefly. A penalty kick by Boffelli narrowed the gap to three points. The match then entered a chaotic phase with numerous substitutions, missed kicks, and handling errors.
Farrell executed a brutal penalty kick for England, but Sanchez reciprocated for the Pumas. Tension reached its peak as Argentina earned a penalty kick with only 5 minutes remaining. However, Sanchez’s attempt from the left wing sailed wide, reminiscent of England’s semi-final against South Africa the previous week.
Although the silver medal may not carry the same prestige as before, the victory allowed England to conclude the tournament with a remarkable record of six wins out of seven matches.
Owen Farrell expressed satisfaction with the team’s evolving strategies and their commitment to fight until the very end, even in a challenging match like this one. England’s head coach, Steve Borthwick, praised the progress made by both teams throughout the tournament, though acknowledging the lackluster quality of this particular match.
However, Argentina’s coach, Michael Cheika, expressed dissatisfaction with the referee, believing that his team did not receive fair treatment. He also addressed speculation about his future with Los Pumas, stating that it would be discussed at the end of the year when he visits Argentina.