2022 England vs Argentina

Cheika Bests Old Teammate, Argentina Upsets England At Twickenham

Cheika Bests Old Teammate, Argentina Upsets England At Twickenham

Argentina's Michael Cheika steered his side to a win at Twickenham, and England's Eddie Jones again is facing resignation cries after a disappointing loss.

Nov 6, 2022 by RugbyPass
Highlights: England Vs. Argentina

This was a tale of two Australian coaches.

First, there is Michael Cheika, the Argentina coach who just steered his side to a famous win at Twickenham, and then there is Eddie Jones, the England head coach who once again is facing resignation cries after a disappointing loss.

Their fortunes may be drastically different, but nonetheless, the pair share plenty of common ground. Both played for Randwick RFC in Sydney and went on to coach the Wallabies. Both lost in a World Cup final and have aspirations of doing one better with the nation they currently lead.

Jones is perhaps the better equipped to achieve that goal, with deeper funds and squad depth at his disposal, but if his Autumn Nations Series opener was anything to go by, England still is a way off from competing against the best in next yearโ€™s World Cup.

Heโ€™s been in the role seven years, but he seems to be on a downward spiral at precisely the wrong point in time. His team finished third in the latest Six Nations standings, with only two wins, but recovered to win a summer series against Australia.

The series success was desperately needed, but it did little to dispel the criticism eroding Englandโ€™s title credentials. And, all those complaints were validated again on a rainy day at Twickenham, as Argentina stole the show by winning 30-29.

Throughout the match, English discipline, which has plagued the side for years now, lingered like a bad cold. Every time Owen Farrell kicked a penalty to restore a lead, a penalty would be conceded minutes after for silly infringements at the breakdown, gifting Los Pumas a way back into the tie.

Marcus Smith was given the No. 10 shirt but was hamstrung by a conservative game plan, which saw Farrell dictate the tempo and turn of the ball. Smithโ€™s worth lies in his attacking unpredictability, so when this is blunted, his involvement becomes much more passive. This was in full view against Argentina.

Overall, there were positives to take away, like the performance of debutant Alex Coles, who brought physicality and gain-line success, and Jack van Poortvliet, who sniped around the ruck to score a try 30 seconds after being brought on, but in the end, these performances merely were an afterthought.

The focus was on Englandโ€™s form, as the team continues to stutter, despite possessing sufficient star talent to play more expansively than has been done as of late.

โ€œWe talked about some issues we had on the field that we didn't address,โ€ Farrell told Prime Video. โ€œWe can't drop confidence because of this.

โ€œWe had scrappy parts of the game, which will get better, the discipline is avoidable. It was a wet day, a wet pitch. As you saw, both teams didn't move the ball well. The penalties stopped our momentum. We weren't at our best, and that's what we are here to do.โ€

Jones agreed with his captain and pinned much of their misfortune on silly errors of judgment.

โ€œIt's not good enough - we realize it's not good enough,โ€ Joes said. โ€œAfter halftime, we were getting our game in place, we were looking fluid in attack, but then we made mistakes, and we were chasing our tail.

โ€œYou can't put your finger on what went wrong. Structurally, we had control of the game, but we kept making fundamental mistakes and easy errors. Congratulations to Argentina. They took their chances and stuck in the game.โ€

It didnโ€™t start all that badly for England, as both teams kicked the points early, before Joe Cokanasiga took a short pass from Ben Youngs and powered over to give the hosts the early advantage. 

Emiliano Boffelli limited the overall damage by converting four first-half penalties, giving England a 16-12 lead at the break.

With the rain still streaming down, expansive rugby looked out of the question, but Argentina saw things differently. 

Early in the second period, the South Americans came alive, executing a beautifully worked attacking move from a lineout, as fly-half Santiago Carreras wrapped around to collect, and then thread a pass through to Boffelli, who scored in the corner.

A hushed silence fell across Twickenham, and things got worse for the home support four minutes later, when Farrell flicked the ball into the turf. Carreras recovered possession and ran the length of the field to give Los Pumas the edge.

England did counterpunch shortly after, thanks to the quick thinking of Van Poortvliet, who darted through a gap on the edge of a ruck and stormed across the whitewash to reduce the deficit.

Farrell and Boffelli continued to exchange penalties, but in the end, Argentina prevailed, claiming its first win at Twickenham since 2006.

Cheika deserves a lorry-load of praise for the performance his side put out, not least because he managed to achieve a historic feat while juggling another job. The Australian also is head coach of Lebanonโ€™s rugby league side, which was knocked out of the World Cup on Friday.

With Argentina, he is building something with real purpose and can add his latest exploits to earlier achievements, which include leading Los Pumas to their first win against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil in the Rugby Championship earlier this year.

โ€œThe players have got a great attitude,โ€ Cheika said. โ€œThey need to know what defense is โ€“ it's not about a great ending, it's about getting a good field position, so you are able to pounce. We were able to take points, even though we didn't have a lot of ball.โ€

Argentina face Wales next weekend, while England will have the opportunity to make amends Saturday against Japan.

โ€œEddie Jones is a good fella,โ€ Cheika said. โ€œHe'll be back. Japan next week is a big game for him.โ€

Written by Stefan Frost