Firstly, if you didn't watch Argentina vs England last night, go find it, watch it, and come back to read this blog.
Secondly, this is an England centric blog, but nothing taken away from Argentina as they played their part in making this an amazing test match!! As I tweeted last night, no losers in this match, both sides were excellent!
I feared massively for this match, I thought the strong scrummaging style, mixed with lightning quick backs that Argentina play would just be too much for a much changed England side.It didn't start well, England opened the game looking disjointed and nervy and when Argentina produced an early magical grubber through and try in the corner to open the scoring, it looked like it may be a long afternoon.
However, led by some sterling performances from the established guys like Care, Launchbury, Ford et al, and ably assisted by some fantastic performances by the youngsters, Genge, Williams, Wilson and Curry in particular, England stood toe to toe with the Argentinians and it produced one of the best test matches I can ever remember watching.
It was crazy. The lead switched several times, we saw Henry Slade set up a try for Jonny May by channeling his inner Paul Daniels, we saw guys pretty unknown to the casual fan, like Piers Francis come out all guns blazing, the best kicking display (bar one missed conversion and a dropout straight into touch) from George Ford in an England jersey, we saw a real ballsy, backs to the wall display from a side that would not lie down and we saw a plethora of new caps blooded from the bench, which was so seemless you'd think these guys were 20 cap established internationals. And Denny Solomona's try. We saw that. We didn't quite believe it at first, but what a fine way to open your international account!
It wasn't perfect, it was often scrappy, but damn it was enjoyable. So much so that with 10 minutes left, I no longer thought I cared about the result (something that was well hidden when Solomona scored with 95 seconds left and I was running round like a mad thing!)
Next week is going to be a barn burner, Argentina will not want a second loss, and England will have their dander up and will know they CAN win.
And Jeronimo de la Fuente is the best name in rugby since Chilliboy Ralepelle. Fact.
My England ratings
15 - Mike Brown - Usual mixed bag from Mike. Hard running, great kicking, but did he miss a couple of overlaps? Couple of uncharacteristic high balls dropped - 7
14 - Marland Yarde - Couple of handling errors, turned for a try, but made up for it with one of his own, 7
13 - Henry Slade - Solid outing, magic for Mays try, has put both hands up for a starting shirt when England are at full strength! 8
12 - Alex Lozowski - Didn't get to play 'his' game. Often used as a crash ball 12, solid enough without a chance to shine. 7
11 - Jonny May - Took half an hour to get into the game, but was involved in a couple of tries and grabbed one of his own - 8
10 - George Ford - Looked every inch an international 10. Great game. Controlled well and kicked well. - 9
9 - Danny Care - Understated brilliance. Controlled the young pack and was his usual fizzing self at scrum half - 9
1 - Ellis Genge - Was a star born in this game? Great in scrums, loose and with ball in hand. 50 caps plus in his future! - 9.5
2 - Dylan Hartley - some missed lineouts (not all his fault) a couple of handling errors, but otherwise solid. - 7
3 - Harry Williams - Another swashbuckler in the front row. First time I've seen him properly. VERY impressed. - 9
4 - Joe Launchbury - Should be in New Zealand. Proved this with an amazing performance. Future captain? - 9.5
5 - Charlie Ewels - Another understated, yet solid performer. Grew into the match - 8
6 - Mark Wilson - An inexperienced back row, but you'd never have known it. Huge game for the Falcons man, - 9
7 - Tom Curry - 18 years old. 18. EIGHTEEN. Assured, confident, got turnovers, was a menace at rucks, tackled like a demon. 18 years old. Holy shit. - 9.5
8 - Nathan Hughes - Carried like a monster, tackled like a monster, played like a monster. - 9
Jack Singleton, Matt Mullan, Will Collier, Nick Isiekwe, Don Armand, Jack Maunder, Piers Francis, Denny Solomona - seemless apart from 1 destroyed scrum, Francis looks a prospect, Solomona had a mixed bag, but grabbed a wonder try, no individual scores, but a collective 8 for securing the result!
Just to reiterate, this was an England side shorn of 30 players that had been lambasted for not taking the likes of Wade and Kvesic over with their weakened squad. Yet they exceeded expectations in a tough tough place to play. Fear of this being another 'Tour of hell' are now very much allayed. Can they take it 2 - 0 next Saturday? Don't bet against it!