|England (14) 21|
|Tries: Hughes, Rokoduguni Cons: Ford Pens: Ford 3|
|Argentina (3) 8|
|Tries: Sanchez Pens: Boffelli|
A rusty England battled to a third win over Argentina in six months as they began their autumn campaign in disjointed fashion.
Nathan Hughes’ first-half try had given them a foundation that they struggled to build on, Semesa Rokoduguni’s third international try with 14 minutes left finally easing home nerves.
But head coach Eddie Jones looked far from content, and if Argentina had not missed four kickable penalties and a conversion his mood may have been more fraught yet.
Not since 2006 have Argentina beaten England, and with their only win all year coming at home against Georgia they arrived at Twickenham as clear underdogs.
Nicolas Sanchez’s late try gave them a little consolation while England will need to improve considerably before they meet Australia here in a week’s time.
England’s entertainers struggle for impact
England came into this match promising to show more attacking flair, although they were already averaging 31 points per game in their seven Tests in 2017.
It took time to come and 23 minutes had gone before George Ford’s long mis-pass found Hughes galloping down the right wing, the number eight taking the ball one-handed before thundering through the covering tackle and into the corner.
Argentina were down to 14 men at the time after Joaquin Tucalet was harshly sin-binned for his challenge on England full-back Mike Brown as the pair jumped for an aerial ball.
And the Pumas could further bemoan the two kickable penalties missed by their returning fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez.
Ford’s three first-half penalties gave his side a little breathing space at 14-3 but the centre pairing of Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph were struggling to make an impact in a fractured attacking display.
Jones grateful for Fijian-born power
It was Argentina who dominated the territory and possession early in the second half, and when England did have the ball their imprecision cost them again.
Slade threw a pass in front of Hughes with the Wasps man in space on the left, Anthony Watson put another pass behind Brown’s replacement Rokoduguni and Dylan Hartley lost control of the ball as an England rolling maul stalled metres from the opposition tryline.
Both Hernandez and Emiliano Boffelli missed further eminently makeable penalties, and only when Jones threw on his replacements in the final quarter did England begin to ease through the gears rather than grind.
Centre Alex Lozowski made a scything outside break from inside his own half to the Argentina five-metre line, and after the ball had gone left Slade spotted Rokoduguni all alone on the right wing, the Bath man diving over to give England a decisive lead.
In a week where much of the talk has been of the bankruptcy of the Samoan Rugby Union and the wider state of the game in the Pacific islands, it meant that both England’s scores had come from men born in Fiji.
Argentina deserved Sanchez’s late try, which came after a sustained period of forward pressure.
England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Slade, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Underhill, Hughes.
Replacements: George, Genge, Williams, Launchbury, Simmonds, Care, Lozowski, Rokoduguni.
Argentina: Tuculet; Moyano, Moroni, Gonzalez Iglesias, Boffelli; Hernandez, Landajo, Garcia Botta, Creevy, Tetaz Chaparro, Alemanno, Lavanini, Matera, Kremer, Lezana.
Replacements: Montoya, Noguera, Pieretto, Macome, Senatore, Bertranou, Sanchez, Cancelliere.