England won their 12th successive Test of the year despite a red card for Elliot Daly early in the first half, defeating Argentina 27-14 at Twickenham on Saturday.
In a tightly contested affair, momentum between the two sides ebbed and flowed but it was England who got the rub of the green in the end despite playing most of the match with 14 men.
Argentina will be kicking themselves, however, as they failed to make the most of their numerical advantage and instead conceded a plethora of penalties which cost them dearly in the end.
Both sides scored two tries apiece but a 17-point haul from Owen Farrell, courtesy of five penalties and a conversion, helped seal England’s win.
The contest was rocked as early as the fourth minute when Daly was red carded for taking Leonardo Senatore out illegaly in the air, after Owen Farrell opened the scoring via a penalty a minute earlier.
Senatore landed heavily on his neck and his injury meant he was replaced by the impressive Facundo Isa, who went on to score Argentina’s opening try later in the half.
Daly’s red card presented los Pumas with a golden opportunity to end England’s unbeaten run but for the next 20 minutes they did not look like a side who were interested in winning this Test.
In fact, they conceded numerous penalties and when it was within goalkicking range Farrell made them pay and the home side led 9-0 by the 23rd minute.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors on the half-hour mark when they conceded a penalty try after Matías Orlando deliberately knocked on a Chris Robshaw pass to Tom Wood close to Argentina’s try-line.
Farrell added the extras and Orlando was rightfully yellow carded for his cynical indiscretion.
To their credit, Argentina upped the ante on attack and spent the latter part of the half camped inside the home side’s 22. They received numerous penalties close to England’s try-line and continually opted to pack down for scrums, a facet of play in which they held the upperhand.
Los Pumas‘ dominance at the set-piece eventually resulted in Dan Cole being yellow carded for dropping his bind at a scrum. Argentina opted for another scrum and were soon rewarded when, from the set-piece, Isa showed great strength and determination as he barged through a Ben Youngs tackle before crashing over for his team’s opening try.
Juan Martín Hernández added the extras which meant England led 16-7 at the interval but Isa’s try seemed to galvanise the visitors who made it a two-point game soon after the restart when Santiago Cordero crossed for their second try.
This, after Argentina launched a counter-attack from inside their half and after the ball went through several pairs of hands, Cordero ran onto a pass from Tomás Cubelli before dotting down.
The visitors failed to kick on, however, and Farrell added two further penalties to give his side a 22-14 lead before Pablo Matera was yellow carded for deliberately collapsing a maul in the 66th minute.
Although Farrell failed to convert the resulting penalty, Jonny May rounded off a superb move shortly afterwards which meant England had the game sewn up by the 68th minute.
Although there was no further points scored, the drama did not end there as five minutes before full-time, Argentina’s Enrique Pieretto was also red carded for stamping on Joe Marler, who was yellow carded after he held on to Pieretto’s leg in an off-the-ball incident.
Tries: Penalty try, May
Pens: Farrell 5
Yellow Cards: Cole, Marler
Red Card: Daly
Tries: Isa, Cordero
Cons: Hernández 2
Yellow Cards: Orlando, Matera
Red Card: Pieretto
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Teimana Harrison,, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Henry Slade
Argentina: 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Juan Pablo Estelles, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Facundo Isa, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Jerónimo De la Fuente, 23 Gabriel Ascárate
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Ian Davies (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)