Denny Solomona's late try snatches win for England over Argentina
Last Updated: 10/06/17 10:27pm
Rugby league convert Denny Solomona scored with his first touch of the ball on his debut to give England a dramatic 38-34 victory over Argentina in the first Test in San Juan.
Without 30 players, largely due to British and Irish Lions calls, head coach Eddie Jones sent out a side virtually unrecognisable from the one that lost to Ireland in the last match of the Six Nations in March.
Flankers Tom Curry and Mark Wilson, centre Alex Lozowski and prop Harry Williams made their international debuts, with another seven uncapped players waiting on the bench for their first appearances at Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario.
England made a nervous start, being penalised at the first scrum and losing the first line-out on Dylan Hartley's throw.
Fly-half Nicholas Sanchez was narrowly wide with a third-minute penalty from 50 metres out but the tourists failed to clear the danger and five minutes later Emiliano Boffelli timed his run to perfection to touch down Nicolas Sanchez's grubber kick to the corner for a try on debut.
Sanchez added the difficult conversion to put his side into a 7-0 lead and the Pumas, urged on by an expectant near-capacity 25,000 crowd, were full of energy and enthusiasm.
Full-back Mike Brown fumbled a high kick from Sanchez and Wilson's pass deep inside his own half was intercepted as the home side maintained the pressure, which was relieved when Argentina were penalised at the breakdown and George Ford put over a 50-metre penalty on 14 minutes to open his side's scoring.
The Pumas would have stretched their lead had Boffelli managed to finish off a nice break by full-back Joaquin Tuculet, but the final pass went to ground and England made the most of the let-off.
Ford kicked a second penalty in the 24th minute after Argentina were punished by referee Nigel Owen for not rolling away to cut the deficit to a point and went in front for the first time four minutes later when Marland Yarde rounded his opposite number to touch down at the corner.
The touchline conversion put England into a 13-7 lead but they conceded again six minutes before the break when second row forward Tomas Lavanini was driven over for a second Argentinian try, and Sanchez added the conversion to restore his side's lead before kicking a penalty on the stroke of half-time to take the score to 17-13.
The fly-half brought his side back to within a point with his third penalty within three minutes of the re-start, and five minutes later winger Jonny May raced on to a kick from centre Henry Slade, who showed some nice footwork to create the opening.
Ford maintained his expert marksmanship with his fifth goal from as many attempts to make it 23-7, however, the game started to go horribly wrong for the visitors when their defence cracked twice in three minutes.
Scrum-half Martin Landajo skipped past Curry to put centre Jeronimo De la Fuente over before winger Matias Moroni broke clear and Boffelli was in support to get Tuculet over for a superb try. Sanchez added both conversions to make it 31-23.
Those quickfire tries lifted the crowd but they were quickly subdued once more as the momentum of the game took another shift.
Ford maintained his excellence with the boot by landing a monster penalty from 55 metres out on 62 minutes and then took a return pass from replacement Piers Francis to go over for England's third try.
That brought the scores level but Ford was off target with the conversion attempt and the Pumas thought they had won it when replacement fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez coolly slotted a drop goal three minutes from the end.
However, there was still time for one last, dramatic twist as Joe Launchbury and Piers Francis combined to get Solomona into space and the former Super League flyer finished off decisively for the winning try.
Ford added the finishing touches with his seventh goal from eight attempts to wrap up a 38-34 triumph.