Rugby union update: England, Lions
England defeats Argentina, the Lions lose to Highlanders
Argentina 34-38 England
Denny Solomona’s late score sealed a thrilling victory in a vibrant match that saw eight tries scored as George Ford, Henry Slade and debutant Tom Curry all impressed. England’s side demonstrated relentless attacking style rugby, with eight tries and the lead changing hands six times. England conceded twice at the 50-minute mark. But they fought back and in a frantic final period, the match went England’s way, Denny Solomona’s try capped a great match for many young debutants, as England earned a much-desired win against a 2019 World Cup opponent. The second Test next Saturday promises to be exciting.
This young England side snatched a remarkable win against Argentina with a try at the death by Denny Solomona. One of ten debutants, Solomona combined helped steal the game in one of the most outrageously entertaining second halves in a long time. A win against the Pumas is a powerful statement from England’s youngsters about their competence under the leadership of George Ford. “I thought it was an incredible game of rugby,” said England manager Eddie Jones. “In the end I think we had 10 new caps on there and to show poise and stick to what we needed to do in the circumstances was an unbelievable effort from the young guys.”
The entertaining match got better as the match progressed. Argentina were the quickest to settle, their props pushed England’s young rugby players to win a penalty at the first scrum, which Nicolás Sánchez just missed from an angled 50 yards. Argentina pinched the first England lineout and scored the first try, in the eighth minute on the blindside, Sánchez’s amazing chip sat up nicely for Emiliano Boffelli to touch down on his debut. Back-row forwards, and England’s flankers, Mark Wilson and 18-year-old Tom Curry both had excellent debuts. Ford had a masterclass with the timing of his passes keeping the Pumas guessing as he earned a tally of 23 points, including a try of his own, whose conversion was the only kick he missed. Ford’s first two penalties drew England back to within a point before they took the lead on the half-hour. Argentina finished the half stronger, scoring 10 points in the 4 minutes before the break.
Jerónimo de la Fuente sparked a passage of brilliant interplay down the left to set up Tomás Lavanini and Argentina’s second try. Sánchez’s penalty right at half-time earned the Pumas a 17-13 lead. In the second half, both teams picked up their game with a spectacular effect. England responded with 10 points in the first seven minutes to take the lead again. Ford’s 42nd-minute penalty was followed by Henry Slade, who went through Argentina’s midfield and sent a chip to the corner, where Jonny May touched down. Ford converted from the touchline once more. Solomona made his much-anticipated debut. Martín Landajo broke past Curry and inside Solomona from a scrum to set up De la Fuente for Argentina’s third, before they struck for their fourth. The match turned around in the final quarter with a 55-metre penalty on the angle by Ford to bring England back to within five. He combined superbly with Piers Francis who made his England debut with England’s third. He missed the conversion: the game was tied.
Dylan Hartley, the skipper on 85 caps, became the latest to spill the ball in a ferocious tackle, and Argentina broke out through Orlando and Ramiro Moyano, setting up Juan Martín Hernández for a drop goal. Next Solomona showed what he could do with the rugby ball. Jack Maunder, another debutant, combined with Francis down the right to set Solomona smashing through the Pumas defense to steal an extraordinary match at the death. “We came here to win 2-0 and that’s what we are going to do,” said Jones about next week’s match in Santa Fe. Newcastle flanker Mark Wilson made his debut, alongside Sale’s 18-year-old Tom Curry. Wilson is in Argentina while his wife Amy is expecting their second child. “It’s something I’ve been waiting for and working towards for a long time. She understands that and she was the first one to say ‘go ahead and enjoy it’. I know that she’s right behind that decision” says Wilson.
M Brown (Harlequins), M Yarde (Harlequins), H Slade (Exeter), A Lozowski (Saracens), J May (Gloucester), G Ford (Bath), D Care (Harlequins); E Genge (Leicester), D Hartley (c, Northampton), H Williams (Exeter), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Ewels (Bath), M Wilson (Newcastle), T Curry (Sale), N Hughes (Wasps). Replacements: J Singleton (Worcester), M Mullan (Wasps), W Collier (Harlequins), N Isiekwe (Saracens), D Armand (Exeter), J Maunder (Exeter), P Francis (Blues), D Solomona (Sale).
Note that all of Argentina’s squad play for Jaguares, the country’s representatives in Super Rugby.
J Tuculet, M Moroni, M Orlando, J de la Fuente, E Boffelli, N Sánchez, M Landajo; L Noguera, A Creevy (c), E Pieretto, M Alemanno, T Lavanini, P Matera, J Ortega Desio, JM Leguizamón. Replacements: J Montoya, S García Botta, N Tetaz Chaparro, G Petti, L Senatore, G Bertanou, JM Hernández, R Moyano.
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Highlanders 23 – 22 British & Irish Lions
A second defeat for the British and Irish Lions in six days highlights the gulf between the Lions first and second sides after the Highlanders clinched a thrilling 23-22 win over the Lions on Tuesday night, inflicting the second loss on Lions’ manager Warren Gatland’s side on their tour of New Zealand. The Highlanders defeated the British & Irish Lions 23-22 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand. The Lions almost won their match inside the enclosed hot Forsyth Barr Stadium against a pumped-up Highlanders side. The Lions held onto a nine-point lead in the second-half, however, Owen Farrell missed a pot at goal that he would normally convert. Five minutes the Highlanders’ Marty Banks converted his glory shot five minutes later to the joy of the local fans. Selection for the test side is crucial. New Zealand Tour captain, Sam Warburton, grew in stature throughout the match, scoring a try. The Lions’ win-loss ledger shows two defeats in four matches. There was a recurring issue with discipline and the penalty count was far too high. The Lions also suffered in the kicking game, wings, Jack Nowell and Tommy Seymour, did not measure up to the men in blue and gold including the formidable All Black, Waisake Naholo. Seymour looked competent as he plucked an interception out of the air at the start of the second half and raced away for a much-needed score.
The Highlanders who were crowned Super Rugby Champions in 2015, showed great zeal in all that they did even with seven players away with the All Blacks and Maori. Next, the Lions head to Rotorua for a fourth test against the powerful Maori line-up. The senior Lions side have an enormous responsibility to get over their gloom and pick up their momentum in their upcoming contest. The schedule is unforgiving, the time for rest and recuperation practically non-existent. It was a hard fought, fast, high-tempo, frantic game. Seymour’s opportunist try followed by Warburton’s effort, rounded off a sharp-angled run from Joseph in the 53rd minute putting the Lions clear. But the Highlanders came back as hooker Liam Coltman came up with the ball to claim the score, the conversion from Marty Banks bringing the home side to within two points. The Highlanders were worthy winners of the frantic match that went down to the wire. Captain Sam Warburton talked about the Lions’ loss after the game. "We turned over the ball too many times in attack,” said Warburton. "It was a proper game of chess, a tight Test match. New Zealand Maori is going to be the toughest game of this tour."
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