England coach Eddie Jones broke the habit of a lifetime to pour praise on his players after England showed tremendous application to overcame the fifth-minute dismissal of Elliot Daly and beat Argentina 27-14 in an incident-packed match on Saturday.
Despite the early red card, England built a 16-0 lead and though the Pumas hit back to make it 16-14 soon after the break, the hosts showed great experience to wrestle control of the game and secure their 12th win in a row under the Australian coach.
“We went out there with a certain game plan but that went out the window after five minutes,” Jones said.
“The senior players regrouped and reorganised and it was outstanding. Chris Robshaw and Courtney Lawes were absolutely outstanding. The work they did off the ball was incredible and it’s that sort of commitment that wins test matches.
“Our team was brilliant today. The way we adapted our tactics and coped with the problems was tremendous and it is credit to our strength and conditioning staff to get the players to the level of fitness they showed in the last 20 minutes today.”
A day after World Rugby announced harsher penalties for dangerous play, Jones had no complaints about Daly’s red card for tackling Leonardo Senatore in the air, the number eight landing on his head and having to be taken off.
“Elliot’s tackle was an error of judgement but I’ve got no issue with the decision, none at all,” he said.”
He also said it was a “referee’s decision” regarding the late red card given to Argentina’s Enrique Pieretto for stamping on the head of Joe Marler, who was yellow-carded – one of four players sin-binned.
“It was like a basketball match out there with players coming on and off,” said Jones, who was impressed with the way his depleted team held out on their line during eight gruelling, scrum-filled minutes of first-half stoppage time.
“But I think we won the match before halftime. The way we held on with those scrums was superb. It was 15 men against 13 but we coped,” he said, despite the fact that Argentina did finally get over the line for a try at the end of it all.
England scrumhalf Ben Youngs said his team had “dug out” the game.
“The desire was there. Losing Elliot was tough but we adapted well and it was a great team effort. Some of the forwards were outstanding,” he said.
England face Australia next week seeking to complete an unbeaten year – quite a turnaround from their ignominious exit from their own World Cup at the group stage 13 months ago under Stuart Lancaster.
“It would be incredible effort and it would show how far we’ve come,” Youngs said.
“It shows we’re building nicely. It’s an exciting time to be an England player.”