England claim historic win in Argentina
June 22, 2002

Clive Woodward's young, untried and untested England side recorded an historic 26-18 victory over Argentina at the Velez Sersfield in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

As in the football 15 days ago, England dug deep in the face of severe Argentina pressure to register a victory that will put the smile on a sporting nation.

Despite fielding five Test debutants and having to face the Pumas without numerous front-line players, England produced a display that will rank as one of the finest during Clive Woodward's 55-match reign in charge.

England looked down and out at half-time, trailing 12-3, but tries during the second period from Leicester lock Ben Kay and Bristol wing Phil Christophers put them in the driving seat.

Fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked 13 points, landing three penalties and both conversions, while Tim Stimpson booted a 50-metre penalty five minutes from time to seal the success.

Pumas fly-half Gonzalo Quesada rifled over six penalties in reply, but Argentina suffered from a chronic shortage of attacking flair, and England jubilantly left the field as deserved winners after silencing a 40,000 crowd.

There were heroic English performances all over the pitch, none more so than from Kay, Christophers, Hodgson and Sale flanker Alex Sanderson.

Kay, one of the most experienced English players on view with just 10 caps, led magnificently from the front.

He might not have had familiar faces like Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill around him, but he rose to the challenge supremely.

Kay and fellow lock Alex Codling were at the heart of a solid English line-out effort, but Kay's rampaging bursts in open play caused grief for Argentina all night.

Christophers was not far behind, claiming his try through a scorching 30-metre break that saw him side-step Argentina full-back Ignacio Corleto and leave him rooted to the spot, and Christophers' all-round play has already catapulted him into World Cup contention.

Hodgson, experiencing his first major Test as England's number 10, emerged from the shadows of Jonny Wilkinson to offer a calming presence behind the scrum.

He recovered admirably from two bad early penalty misses, and finished the game completely in control.

And of the forwards who grafted manfully in every aspect of play, none was more efficient than Sanderson.

Time and time again he won the contest for possession on the floor, and can only have left an indelible mark on Woodward's mind.

England had not seriously been expected to trouble a Pumas' outfit that had beaten Six Nations champions France last Saturday, and when they trailed by nine points at the break, their prospects of an upset win appeared remote.

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