England rugby union coach Stuart Lancaster took plenty of positives from his team’s performance after a sparkling first half and spluttering second carried them to a 31-12 win over Argentina at Twickenham on Saturday.
The hosts started quickly and scored three good tries before the interval but lost their way before replacement number eight Ben Morgan charged through a tired Pumas defence in the closing stages to add a bit of gloss to the scoreline before next week’s match against world champions New Zealand.
“Overall there were plenty of positives,” Lancaster said. “We started the game very brightly, our intent was good and our accuracy was good but we fell away in the second half.”
Centre Billy Twelvetrees, criticised for his display in last week’s 20-13 win over Australia, was one of the try-scorers as England’s pack dominated the early stages.
“Billy was disappointed with his performance last week but his attitude in training was excellent,” Lancaster said. “He did well today, brought some composure to our backline and was delighted to get his try.”
England defence coach Andy Farrell was impressed by the way his players took the game to the powerful Argentina forwards.
“First half we settled down brilliantly,” he said. “Argentina were hanging on by the skin of their teeth and the game was set up brilliantly for us at half-time but just couldn’t keep it going. There aren’t many teams who maul Argentina like we did.
“In the second half we lacked a bit of patience and conceded a few penalties.
Lancaster knows his side will need to improve considerably if they want to repeat last year’s stunning win over the All Blacks next Saturday.
Meanwhile, winger Nick Cummins scored two of seven Australian tries as the Wallabies made up for defeat to England with a commanding 50-20 victory over hapless Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Turin.
Italy had been looking to capitalise on Australia’s morale-sapping 20-13 reverse at Twickenham last week to score a first, historic win over Australia in 16 attempts.
But despite going 10-up before the quarter-hour thanks notably to a try from Australian-born fullback Luke McLean, the tourists came steadily into their game and punished Italian errors with ruthless efficiency.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel admitted the Azzurri’s usually strong defence simply did not turn up.
“Our defence just wasn’t at its usual level and when you’re up against a team known for their speed, you can’t let that happen,” he said.
Scotland laboured past Japan 42-17 at Murrayfield but they couldn’t put the Japanese in their rearview mirror until the 60th minute, when No 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani was sin-binned and the hosts took advantage with two tries to bump the score from an anxious 23-17 to an out-of-sight 35-17.
Only after another yellow card, to Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru, did Scotland score its sixth and last try in the 78th.
“It wasn’t going to be an easy day,” Scotland lock Tim Swinson said. “The Japanese are a quality test side, they showed that today.”
Reuters, Agence France Presse, Associated Press