England have made a solid start to their World Cup campaign, with bonus-point wins in their opening matches, but their first significant challenge of the tournament awaits them against Argentina in Tokyo.


England face first test in Japan

Eddie Jones has been able to ease his team into the competition with fixtures against Tonga and USA offering a very gentle start. It gets more difficult from here although England are still widely expected to top their pool with wins against the Pumas and France in their final game.

England produced a patchy performance in their first match, overcoming Tonga 35-3, with the players adjusting to the humidity in Japan.

Their display in the 45-7 victory against USA last week was much improved and demonstrated the power game Jones hopes will take England all the way to a second World Cup triumph.

Jones has reverted to the majority of the team which faced Tonga in their first match with a strong selection to take on the physical prowess of Argentina. Owen Farrell starts at inside centre with George Ford playing at fly-half.

Arguably the most significant news is the return of wing Jack Nowell and prop Billy Vunipola on the bench. Both have been sidelined due to injury but their availability only strengthens England’s hand and underlines the depth in their squad.

TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 02: Jack Nowell catches the ball during the England training session at Fuchu Asahi Football Park on October 02, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)


Pumas face must-win match

Argentina cannot afford another slip-up after their opening 23-21 loss to France. The Pumas slumped to a tenth successive Test defeat, paying the price for a slow start in the first half.

Mario Ledesma’s side hit back in the second match, winning 28-12 against Tonga with hooker Julian Montoya scoring a hat-trick.

But the Pumas scored all their points in the first half and they will need a complete 80-minute performance if they are to upset England and give themselves a chance of progressing.


Tuilagi can fire England to victory

SAPPORO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 22: Manu Tuilagi of England grounds the ball to score his side's second try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group C game between England and Tonga at Sapporo Dome on September 22, 2019 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England are worthy favourites although few will be interested in backing them to win at skinny odds of 1/7. It is no surprise though with England winning the last nine clashes between the sides and Argentina do not appear to be in strong enough shape to halt this run.

With the physical attributes of players such as Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola, England look well equipped to handle everything Argentina throw at them.

England look worth backing to cover a six-point first-half handicap on their way to victory. In 11 of their last 12 matches, England have led by more than six points at half-time and they are fancied to make another fast start this weekend.

Another bet worth taking is Manu Tuilagi to score at 7/4. The powerful centre looks back close to his best and significantly is free from injury.

Tuilagi is a major attacking threat for England as he showed scoring twice during the Tonga win. The 28-year-old has three tries in his last two international matches and can cross the line again in a third World Cup win for England.


England -6.5 to win the first-half handicap

Manu Tuilagi to score a try

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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