George Ford kicked England to a remarkable 27-10 World Cup victory over Argentina yesterday in a performance full of intensity that was all the more astonishing as they played with 14 men from the third minute.
Flyhalf 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 seemed to sap Argentina’s spirit.
England were unrecognisable from the team who had lost six of their nine games under coach Steve Borthwick, finally showing pace in attack, fierce determination in defence and great discipline in stark contrast to their ragged rivals.
The Pool D match had been billed as a massive challenge for England against a Pumas side who beat them at Twickenham last November. It looked an even bigger ask when Curry, playing his first game of rugby since May, was shown a yellow card for a head on head collision with Cruz Mallia, which was upgraded to red via the bunker TMO review system.
Ford showed famed generalship as he regularly steered his team into position and landed three drop goals to match Jonny Wilkinson’s England record from the 2003 semi-final victory over France, to give them a 12-3 halftime lead.
England’s defence was unrecognisable from the Fiji defeat last time out as a series of dominant collisions kept earning Ford penalty opportunities that he kept taking to stretch the lead.
The England fans could barely contain themselves as the scoreboard kept ticking over in their favour and so many players delivered the top-drawer performances Borthwick had kept promising.
Argentina barely mounted an attack until the final minute when Rodrigo Bruni bundled over for the only try of the match.