LONDON (Reuters) - England coach Eddie Jones described Saturday’s 21-8 victory over Argentina as a “grindathon” and few in the 82,000 crowd would have disagreed with him as the hosts struggled to find any cohesion in a game desperately short of fluid rugby.
Tries in each half by Nathan Hughes and Semesa Rokoduguni and the boot of George Ford were enough to see off a Pumas side who responded with a late Nicolas Sanchez try. But England were a long way from their best and were grateful for Argentina’s errant kicking which led to five misses from their six goal attempts.
“Yep, it was a ‘grindathon’, Jones told reporters. “We were off the pace a bit but we did some things well.
“We haven’t played together since March (excluding the June tour to Argentina without his British and Irish Lions) and the understanding wasn’t there, which is understandable.
“But it was a good win. You can’t underestimate (Argentina). They are a good team and they played well, and it’s a great contest for us.”
Jones usually cuts a relatively serene figure during the match but was shown hammering his desk in frustration after another England penalty offence.
The Australian made no apology though. “We want to play good rugby so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be frustrated,” he said.
“Every time we created something a pass would go astray or something. Henry Slade, did some good things but that understanding at 10-12-13 wasn’t really there.
“Attack-wise we need to finish opportunities and we gave away some silly penalties.”
England face Australia next week before finishing their series against Samoa, and Jones did not hide the fact that a quick improvement would be needed.
“We’re hoping Australia bring their best game and we’ll see where we’re at,” he said.
“We have a very clear vision of how we want to play against Australia.”
Jones has set a lot of stock in his replacements - rechristening them “finishers” - but they did not make their usual impact on Saturday, which was all the more surprising against a Pumas team whose trademark in the rugby championship has been a late fade after holding their own for an hour.
Alex Lozowski looked lively and helped set up the second try with a rare break but Jones accepted the last quarter did not go as he’d hoped.
“Most of the bench didn’t touch the ball and just tackled – that’s rugby sometimes,” he said.
“But we’ve expanded the squad today. Sam Underhill’s a good player and will only get better; Anthony Watson did a great job at fullback (after Mike Brown went off injured after 22 minutes); Ellis Genge did well; Sam Simmonds made his debut, so that’s all good.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips; editing by Rex Gowar, Neville Dalton