Eddie Jones said he does not feel there are fundamental problems in the England ranks after their shock 30-29 defeat to Argentina but instead said the loss was down to “individual” and “elemental” mistakes.
Jones had labelled England’s four-Test autumn schedule a mini-World Cup, but their campaign got off to a poor start on Sunday at Twickenham as they were given a huge wake-up call by the Pumas with the Rugby World Cup just 10 months away.
It was as much a reality check for Jones’ side as it was a glorious afternoon for this history-making group of Argentina players. But with both teams meeting in the pool stages of the World Cup next year, it is Argentina who have the bragging rights ahead of that meeting on Sept. 9 in Marseille.
Jones said it was hard to single out exactly why the match got away from England, but said it was “frustrating,” bemoaning “individual mistakes, elemental mistakes.”
“We’re under the pump a bit — [I] think we’ll respond really well,” Jones said. “We don’t have to worry about confidence — it’s about repeating things well. We did some good things, some silly things — sometimes that happens when you try too hard.”
On a historic afternoon for the Pumas, winger Emiliano Boffelli finished with a 25-point haul, which included a wonderful try to finish off a sweeping move in the 47th minute, six penalties, and a conversion. Santiago Carreras scored Argentina’s other try in the 51st minute with a breakaway effort as they secured their first victory over England since 2009, and their first win at Twickenham in 16 years.
England stuttered in attack and managed a try in either half, with Joe Cokanasiga crossing in the 25th minute and Jack van Poortvliet scoring within 29 seconds of coming on from the bench in the 55th minute. Owen Farrell was faultless from the tee to bring up a 19-point haul but England fell short as both teams exchanged penalties and the lead in the final quarter of the match.
Jones said there was a “dullness” around the game but he now turns his attention to welcoming Japan to Twickenham next weekend, before they face New Zealand and South Africa. “I’m not thinking we have strong problems in the team — most of the part we dominated the game,” Jones said. “I don’t need to fight today — I feel the team went out and played how they wanted to play, but we made some silly mistakes. They’re all controllable, we can fix them.”
Captain Farrell said he felt they “took a step forward in attack today” while Jones said it remains a work in progress. “You always want to have a more potent attack — sometimes it doesn’t go like that and takes some time to get right,” Jones said.
It was Argentina boss Michael Cheika’s first win in eight matches against a side coached by Jones, having lost all seven of their meetings during his time in charge of Australia against Jones’ England. But Cheika says this match will not count for much when they meet again at the World Cup next year.
“It was good, it was tense,” Cheika said. “I really like the way we prepared this week and had a good attitude about them. It was nice for the lads and a great opportunity to have that experience here. It was a tight game, and it comes down to a kick here, or a kick there.
“I’m not big on laying the markers and that type of stuff. Every game is played on its merits — maybe it’ll do something for a confidence point of view for us. But as far as the game itself, it’ll be a totally different game in 10 months’ time. We’re doing our best to learn, get better and improve as a team.”
Jones said England will monitor Manu Tuilagi’s fitness after he left the field in the 67th minute. “He had a blister — it affected his game a little bit,” Jones said. “We’re not overly concerned at this stage.”