Ford kicks 14-man England to RWC win over Argentina


Five-eighth George Ford has kicked England to a remarkable 27-10 World Cup victory over Argentina in a performance full of intensity and tactical guile and all the more astonishing as they played with 14 men from the third minute.

Ford, starting in the place of the suspended Owen Farrell, scored all the points, including a record-equalling three drop goals in a 10-minute first-half blitz that sapped Argentina's spirit.

England were unrecognisable from the team who had lost six of their nine games under coach Steve Borthwick, showing pace and invention in attack and fierce determination in defence.

"The drop-goals are always planned, it is a great weapon for us, especially when the ball is a bit greasy," Ford said.

"The boys up front were incredible to get us into that field position.

"We have had a bit of a rocky build-up to this World Cup but in the last 10 days there has been a different feeling to the place."

The Pool D match had been billed as a massive challenge for England against a Pumas side who beat them at Twickenham last November but, despite the numerical disadvantage after Tom Curry's third-minute red card, it was one-way traffic.

Curry, playing his first game since May, had barely broken sweat before being shown a yellow card for a head-on-head collision with Cruz Mallia, which was upgraded to red via the bunker review system.

It was the fourth time in the last six games England had had a man sent off.

Argentina also went down to 14, though only for 10 minutes, after Santiago Carreras was sin-binned for a late hit on Ford.

Ford showed all his experience as he regularly steered his team into position and landed three drop goals in a 10-minute burst, matching Jonny Wilkinson's England record from the 2003 semi-final victory over France in Sydney.

Not only were England edging ahead on the scoreboard, they were not being pushed too hard in defence as Argentina could have few complaints about reaching halftime 12-3 down.

A Ford penalty stretched it to 15-3 and England's scrum, with centre Manu Tuilagi packing down on the flank, more than held their own.

"There was a sense I had from the players they had been written off a bit too early," Borthwick said.

"What I see is a great group of players who have a lot of experience and some real exciting young players and the blend was just about right today."

Argentina, who came into the game above England in the world rankings and hoping for a first World Cup win against the 2003 champions after three previous pool defeats, barely mounted an attack until the final minute when Rodrigo Bruni bundled over for the only try of the match.

"We let the play get too stop and start," Argentina's Australian coach Michael Cheika said.

"England played the circumstances very well and full credit to them.

"But the world is not over. We have many World Cup first-timers and they will take a lesson of how we need to be ready when the whistle blows."