(Reuters) - A young England side shorn of its best players due to the British and Irish Lions tour showed nerve and composure in a last-gasp 38-34 win over Argentina in San Juan on Saturday.
Denny Solomona stole the show with a brilliant solo try in a match that will live long in the memory for the 10 England players who made their debut.
Solomona may have taken the limelight at the end, but it was the experienced George Ford and his best performance in an England shirt that proved decisive.
Ford scored 23 points, landing kicks from every angle and from long distance, while his passing kept the Pumas defence on edge throughout.
Argentina were maddened by England’s refusal to go away, even after Juan Martin Hernandez’s drop goal with three minutes left had seemingly secured victory.
It was a classic match, never less than full throttle, though the teams took time to settle into the brilliance that illuminated the second half.
Argentina led 17-13 at the break, two superb tries from Emiliano Boffelli, one of two Argentina debutants, and Tomas Lavanini answering a sweeping effort finished by Marland Yarde.
The second half was when the frantic matured into the epic.
Brilliance from Henry Slade set up Jonny May for the try by which England re-took the lead, only for Argentina to take it back and extend it with two fine tries in two minutes. Solomona was central to both, albeit for the wrong reasons.
Having just come on, he was turned inside out three times during the making of the tries by Jeronimo de la Fuente and Joaquin Tuculet, which established an eight-point lead approaching the final quarter.
Ford landed a 55-metre penalty on the angle, then scampered away down the left three minutes later to tie the game with 15 minutes remaining.
A lightening break-out from their own half by the Pumas set up Hernandez for his drop goal, but Solomona was not quite finished. With 90 seconds remaining he tore through Argentina’s defence to secure the most dramatic of wins.
Editing by Clare Fallon / Ian Ransom