Argentina head coach Michael Cheika has hinted that England’s street smarts were the root cause of Los Pumas’ failure fire in their disappointing 27-10 loss at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
What transpired next was a mini-miracle in Marseille for Steve Borthwick’s embattled England. A cap-heavy 14-man England managed the game to within an inch of its life, with a George Ford magnum opus at flyhalf steering England to what in the end was a relatively comfortable – if improbable – win.
Put simply: England schooled Los Pumas in the art of game management. A solemn Cheika, who fielded a press conference in England and Spanish, made it clear that England’s savvy stalling of the game was the key difference between the sides.
“Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I think we let the play get too stop and start. England played the circumstances very well and full credit to them,” said Cheika. “There was almost no play. There were so many stoppages. The play we did get we didn’t master every well. That was by design by the other team. They did it very well. They put us in that corner.
“We’ll take what we need from it and get on with the next game.”
Cheika’s thoughts have now turned to their next clash in Pool D, a now must-win game against Samoa next Friday.
“The world is not over. We still have work to do to qualify. Our players will take a lot from this experience. We have many first-timers in World Cup games and they will take a lesson of how we need to be ready when the whistle blows.”
“They were better than us in every way. In the set-piece they did very well. We may have been competitive but we couldn’t exploit our strengths. In all aspects of the game, they pushed further, they played the game they wanted to play.
“We couldn’t gel as we wanted, we couldn’t connect as we wanted.”
“What annoys us the most is that we didn’t play a bad game, but we wanted to do something different on-field and we couldn’t execute our game plan the way we wanted.”