England (16) 27
Tries: Penalty try, May; Conversions: Farrell; Penalties: Farrell (5)
Argentina (7) 14
Tries: Isa, Cordero; Conversions: Hernandez (2)
England can match the 14-match winning streak set during the reign of Sir Clive Woodward back in 2003 with victory over Australia next weekend after battling to a tremendously hard-fought 27-14 triumph over Argentina in an entertaining and ill-disciplined autumn Test match at Twickenham on Saturday (26 November).
Eddie Jones will be delighted with the sheer determination, spirit and defensive resilience displayed by his side, seeking to become the first England team to go unbeaten through an entire calendar year since 1992, after they were reduced to 14 men with just five minutes on the clock. Elliot Daly became only the fifth player in England history to see red and the first since Lewis Moody was sent off for brawling against Samoa 11 years ago after leaving Leonardo Senatore in a crumpled heap.
With Santiago Cordero making a late switch to 15 due to a training injury suffered by Joaquin Tuculet and looking initially shaky under the high ball, England almost notched an early try courtesy of Jonny May's clever grubber kick down the right flank. Matias Moroni was able to touch down before the Gloucester wing, controversially recalled to replace Fijian-born Semesa Rokoduguni despite the latter scoring a brace of tries against his country of birth last weekend.
Owen Farrell kicked the hosts in front after Pablo Matera was punished for going in off his feet following a powerful run from Billy Vunipola. Argentina temporarily lost the influential Juan Martin Hernandez, but were handed a real boost after Daly, retaining his unfamiliar place on the left wing after impressing during the 58-15 win over Fiji and drawing early comparisons to Jason Robinson, was sent off for dangerous play. The Wasps star left French referee Pascal Gauzere with little other choice but to produce a red card after recklessly taking out Senatore in the air following a box kick to halfway from Ben Youngs. The Argentine number eight landed horribly on his head and was quickly replaced by Facundo Isa.
Only a crucial Billy Vunipola interception inside his own 22 prevented Argentina from quickly making that numerical advantage count. Hernandez, one of three visiting players who required treatment for head injuries early on, returned and looked to tee up another chance, but Juan Pablo Estelles strayed offside. More indiscipline at the breakdown allowed Farrell to further extend England's lead and a rogue pass from Mike Brown intended for the younger Vunipola foiled a certain try after the returning full-back had impressively burst through midfield.
The Twickenham crowd, disgruntled by that decision to hand Daly an early bath, demanded a similar punishment after Estelles made contact with May as he rose to collect a high ball. However, the Northampton wing escaped without so much as a caution. Farrell kept the scoreboard ticking over with another successful kick after Pumas captain Agustin Creevy was penalised for collapsing a maul, but crashed his next attempt against the post to keep the score at 9-0.
England coped brilliantly a man light and were rightly awarded a penalty try just before the half-hour mark. Billy Vunipola turned the ball over and played in George Ford, who was tackled but managed to keep the play alive from the floor. Tom Wood then looked primed to go over the line before man of the match Chris Robshaw's pass was knocked down by Matias Orlando. Farrell provided the successful conversion and Gauzere promptly produced his yellow card.
Tricky in attack, May displayed fine defensive nous when he aggressively bundled Estelles out of play after a probing cross-field kick. England were dealt a massive injury blow when the colossal Billy Vunipola was carted off with a potentially serious knee issue and replaced by Teimana Harrison. The Red Roses spent the remainder of the opening half camped deep inside their own 22 as physical Argentina chose to engage in a series of scrums rather than kick an easy three points.
After a series of infringements including a Ford offside, England found their number further depleted when Dan Cole was sent to the sin bin for collapsing the set-piece. Kyle Sinckler replaced Wood as a determined Creevy again opted for a scrum in front of the posts, but finally the resistance was broken deep into a long period of overtime when Isa peeled off the back and burrowed over. Hernandez added the conversion to end an action-packed first half, despite being harangued by a partisan home faithful.
Beginning the second period with 13 men, England conceded again inside a minute when their defensive line was suitably stretched by a more focused and direct Argentina. Cordero touched down after beginning a fantastic sequence of attacking play that also involved Estelles and Jeronimo de la Fuente. Hernandez again made no mistake with the conversion to reduce the deficit to just two points.
Cole and Wood re-entered the game, much to England's relief, and May was just unable to keep an inventive high kick from Farrell in play. The Saracens fly-half gave his team some much needed breathing space with another successful kick before driving his next effort wide. Harrison had created the second opportunity with some fine work at the breakdown.
England's incredible strength in depth has become a hallmark of their success under Jones and Farrell slotted over another penalty after a refreshed pack had Argentina retreating on their heels. Matera became the latest player to visit the bin for dragging down another maul, but Farrell was unable to punish that particular loss of discipline.
Argentina, who began the autumn with a big win over Japan before travelling to the United Kingdom for narrow losses against Wales and Scotland, understandably began to look a little leggy at the end of their last match of a gruelling 2016 in which they finished bottom of the Rugby Championship despite recording a maiden victory over crisis-stricken South Africa and pushing the All Blacks hard. Their chances of securing a win that could have seen them rise as high as fifth in the global rankings and avoid an extremely tough 2019 World Cup pool containing two top seeds were ended when Ford, Wood and Jonathan Joseph combined to send May streaking away down the left wing to score.
They were lucky to avoid conceding another late try when Brown again went rampaging through the middle but was shown by the Television Match Official (TMO) to have just knocked on at the vital moment. A late push from Argentina was scuppered by a neck roll committed on Cole and replacement prop Enrique Pieretto was then shown the second red card of the day for an ugly stamp on Joe Marler's head that will surely earn him a lengthy ban.
Marler was also binned for holding on to his opponent's foot, but England produced yet more terrific defensive work to make it 12 straight wins under Jones' leadership. Attentions now turn to a pivotal visit from Michael Cheika's Wallabies.