5 Things We Learned: England 27-10 Argentina Rugby World Cup - Page 2 of 3 - Ruck

5 Things We Learned: England 27-10 Argentina Rugby World Cup

3. Tom Curry’s Red Card and Ben Earl Flies High In Vunipola’s Absence

After being issued a two match ban following a high tackle against Ireland in the Summer, Billy Vunipola missed out on England’s opening match against Argentina with Ben Earl taking up the mantle at number eight. Tom Curry also made his long awaited return from injury, yet despite playing at number eight for England at the tale end of the Eddie Jones era, Curry was preferred to start at openside flanker instead.

However, Curry’s appearance in Marseille was merely a cameo, as he was promptly dismissed following a head to head collision, less than three minutes into the match. An accidental and unfortunate offence saw Curry sent to the stands, as he clashed heads with Argentine fullback Juan Cruz Mallia, who landed after catching a high ball. The number 15 was busted open, whilst Curry presented his finest ‘Terry Butcher’ impression with a heavy bandage.

The rugby landscape erupted on social media to the early dismissal, with the likes of former England flanker Lewis Moody calling the decision ‘harsh’. This offence becomes England’s fourth red card since March, with Freddie Steward, Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola and now Curry racking up the discipline sheet in the past few months. Curry’s offence carried great gravitas, as it was England’s first ever red card at a Rugby World Cup.

Ben Earl had a strong game, with another resolute performance at number eight. It will be interesting to see if Vunipola is immediately recalled into the starting line-up for next Sunday’s match against Japan, as Earl is providing real workhorse performances, with a specialism for a dramatic turnover. Sure the critics remain around his ‘over celebrating’, yet Earl’s passion simply can’t be contained by punching the air. England had something to shout about tonight, with an all-important win secured in Marseille.

4. Alex Mitchell Provides Ford’s Ammunition On England Return

Despite all of the plaudits going to George Ford, England’s fly half would not have been able to come up with the goods without the expert distribution of Alex Mitchell. Steve Borthwick pleased the England fans by naming Mitchell to start against Argentina, as he fast-tracked the Northampton man to the nine jersey ahead of veterans Ben Youngs and Danny Care.

Youngs was not even included in the match-day squad to take on Los Pumas, who coincidentally were the side that the Leicester scrum half made his Rugby World Cup against in 2011. Youngs was unable to replicate his match-winning heroics of 12 years ago, with Danny Care allotted the spot on the bench.

Mitchell returned to the squad after Jack van Poortvliet’s World Cup ended before it began, with a brutal ankle injury suffered against Wales at Twickenham. Mitchell had a strong all-rounding performance for England, starting off by confidently igniting the ariel battle with astutely placed box kicks. He swept up well, covering early chips of the England defence and made his tackles with aplomb.

The Saints man looked like he belonged out amongst the England stalwarts, as he bossed around the likes of Itoje, Tuilagi and Ford to integrate the forwards into the back-line. To the rejoice of England fans, quick-ball was the order of the day against Argentina. After suffering defeat to Michael Cheika’s side back in the latest Autumn Series, the England players knew how physical Argentina are at the breakdown, with Mitchell more than happy to oblige with quick rucks.

Mitchell made good on his opportunity, however, it wouldn’t be unexpected to see one of the more experienced scrum halves take the lead next Sunday. Mitchell could come on after any hopes of a Japan upset win have been squashed, so England don’t become the next favourited side to be undone by the Brave Blossoms at the Rugby World Cup.