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Mako Vunipola England v Argentina
Argentina doesn’t have a choice.
Beat England on Saturday, or it makes its earliest exit from a Rugby World Cup in 16 years.
This was always going to be a crunch match in Pool C: Three Tier One sides can’t fit into two quarterfinal slots.
The stakes deepened for the Pumas after losing to France 23-21 on the opening weekend. France still has to play England, too, but having already got past Argentina, the French may not need to beat England to advance.
“This is our World Cup final,” Pumas coach Mario Ledesma says. “That’s how important it is for us. It’s a really good opportunity to get into the history books of Argentine rugby.”
England can make history in Tokyo, too. A win qualifies it for the quarter-finals after embarrassingly missing out in 2015 in its home tournament.
This isn’t a World Cup final to England because Eddie Jones’ squad came to Japan to play in the real one. It has every reason to be confident on Saturday.
England has beaten up Argentina for the past decade, winning nine straight tests. The English won their only previous two World Cup matchups, although both had to be toughed out. England prevailed 24-18 in 1995 in Durban, and needed a Ben Youngs converted try in the 67th minute to win 13-9 in 2011 at Dunedin.
England’s confidence is high after winning its opening two pool matches against Tonga and the United States, scoring 80 points and conceding 10. And it has had two extra days of preparation for its first Tier One opponent.
And for the first time in ages, coach Jones was
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