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SPORTS | 10-09-2023 16:38

It all went wrong, Cheika says after Pumas loss to England

"Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I think we let the play get too stop and start," said Argentina coach Michael Cheika after Pumas slumped to 27-10 defeat against England.

Argentina coach Michael Cheika said nothing went the way of Los Pumas in a comprehensive 27-10 defeat by England in both teams' World Cup Pool D opener on Saturday.

England lost Tom Curry to an upgraded red card from the third minute, but not even playing a side down to 14 men could help an Argentine team that suffered badly with ill-discipline.

George Ford was their punisher, hitting six penalties, as well as three excellently-taken drop-goals to convert territorial possession into points.

"Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I think we let the play get too stop and start," said Cheika, who led Australia to the 2015 final and 2019 quarter-finals. "England played the circumstances very well and full credit to them."

Argentina had come into the game at Marseille's Stade Velodrome as marginal favourites, ranked two places ahead of England in world rankings at sixth.

But a raft of handling errors, a misfiring backline and lack of discipline around the ruck cost them dear.

"There was almost no play. There were so many stoppages. The play we did get we didn't master every well," Cheika said. "That was by design by the other team. They did it very well. They put us in that corner. "We didn’t know how to change the rhythm, mainly because of our own mistakes. We'll take what we need from it and get on with the next game."

Cheika, whose Argentina side next face Samoa on September 22, added: "The world is not over. We still have work to do to qualify.

"Our players will take a lot from this experience. We have many first-timers in World Cup games and they will take a lesson of how we need to be ready when the whistle blows."

Argentina captain Julián Montoya, who plays his club rugby for Leicester, said the result was "obviously not the game we wanted, losing to a very good England team who did a lot of things well."

"But the attitude until the last minutes of the game was there so that is a positive. This is the first game of four. It’s a long tournament, of course, and things will need to improve as soon as possible. We need to be careful for the rest of the games."

England led 27-3 before Argentina claimed a late consolation try by Rodrigo Bruni, converted by Emiliano Boffelli.

"The attitude of the team to go until the last minute and score a try is important," Montoya said. "We need to figure out why we didn’t do that for the 80 minutes. We are not at the standard we want to be at. It’s a bad thing to happen but it’s better that it happened in the first game. We can learn from it."

Ford kicked all the points, including three drop-goals, to help 14-man England cast off a dismal run of form to claim a comprehensive victory.

After just four wins from their last 13 matches, an England side boasting 10 survivors from the 2019 final they lost to South Africa made it count when it mattered in Marseille.

When the two teams last met, in November, it was Los Pumas who laid down a marker with a 30-29 victory at Twickenham. But they have never won a consecutive Test in this fixture and were never in the running after Ford stepped up to take a scrappy game by the scruff of the neck.

Ford more than made up for the fact that it was England’s first World Cup match without Owen Farrell since his international debut: all 10 matches across the 2015 and 2019 tournament featured Farrell at either fly-half, inside centre or as a replacement off the bench.

Farrell is serving a ban that will see him miss the first two matches in this World Cup for a dangerous tackle, but on this showing he will have to fight tooth-and-nail to get the No 10 jersey back from his teammate.

Ford said drop-goals are "always part of our plan, especially when the ball is a bit greasy like tonight".

He added: "We went a man down early on so we had to take as many points as possible when we had field position, and we managed to do that.

"We have had a bit of a rocky build-up to this World Cup but I think in the last 10 days there has been a different feeling to the place. It is only game one and we will look to build next week," he told ITV.

In a dramatic opening 10 minutes at a packed Stade Velodrome, French referee Mathieu Raynal was forced to use the television match official to help rule on two dubious tackles.

He first handed Tom Curry a yellow card in just the third minute following a clumsy clash of heads with Argentine full-back Juan Cruz Mallia, but that was eventually upgraded to red.

The red card was England’s fourth since March and the openside became the first England player to be sent off at a World Cup.




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