Analysis: Daly delivers as England’s chariot rolls into the knockout rounds

England are the first team to confirm their passage into the World Cup quarter-finals, and they made it with a bit to spare on Saturday with a comfortable 39-10 win over Argentina.

England are the first team to confirm their passage into the World Cup quarter-finals, and they made it with a bit to spare on Saturday with a comfortable 39-10 win over Argentina.

The red card inside 20 minutes for Pumas lock Tomas Lavanini effectively ended the game as contest.

But England were clinical when they needed to be, running in six tries in all and, four years on from being bounced out of a home World Cup in the pool stages, their chariot is rolling into the knockout stages again.

It was before the summer tour to South Africa in June of last year that Eddie Jones drew up his master plan of shifting Elliot Daly to full-back.

A centre in club rugby, and a wing for both England and the British & Irish Lions until then, the move to No.15 was a bold one.

But after some early growing pains, Daly is starting to look the complete package at the back for England.

And here against the Pumas he produced his best showing in the No.15 jersey yet.

His probing left foot gives England a viable third kicking option, he was solid under the high ball particularly in the early exchanges, and also produced a superb covering tackle in the corner to deny Santiago Carreras.

And all that is without mentioning his attacking ability with ball in hand, it’s easy to see that Daly is a centre by trade with the way he enters the line and produces passes off each hand to create overlaps.

And his first-half try was a classic 13’s outside break, Daly juggling, re-gathering before his stutter step froze his defender and in a flash he was over.

The Saracens-bound flyer returned kicks with interest all game, and finished as England’s top metre-maker with 114m, their top carrier with 16, beat four defenders and made two clean breaks.

The full-back jersey was very much up for grabs 18 months ago when Mike Brown vacated it, but the debate is pretty much over now.

John Mitchell’s well-honed defence has now only shipped two tries in three Tests at this Rugby World Cup.

Throw in their final warm-up game against Italy in Newcastle, and it is only two tries in the last four.

Playing against 14 men for over an hour helped their cause here, and Mitchell will not be pleased with the way Matias Moroni and Carreras shredded their defence for the Pumas’ late consolation.

But before that, they were emphatic in their defensive efforts. Joe Marler and Maro Itoje are relentless but it is Sam Underhill who leads the way.

His 16 tackles here were a team high for the Red Rose, but it is not just about the quantity. The quality of his hits, both in terms of technique and forcefulness, stand out.

Time and again the Bath flanker catapulted himself into contact behind the Pumas gainline, dominating carriers and slowing ball.

His budding partnership with Tom Curry on the flanks continues to develop, and with Lewis Ludlam introduced for the injured Billy Vunipola at the break, Curry shifted to No.8 and a youthful looking back row barely missed a beat.

Underhill was the official man of the match in the end, and it was hard to argue.

Ludlam’s impact was clear to see on his introduction, coming from deeper onto the ball than England’s forwards had been previously, and England were suddenly back on the front foot.

And when George Ford went over to seal the bonus-point try early in the second half, Jones had the perfect platform to give his returning bench stars some much needed minutes.

Jack Nowell will get the headlines for his superb solo try late on, but equally vital was the 20 minutes Mako Vunipola got in the front row and Henry Slade in midfield.

Vunipola made his impact with five tackles in his late cameo, while Slade dovetailed nicely with Farrell in the build-up to Nowell’s late effort.

Luke Cowan-Dickie’s try-scoring heroics continue as well.

In a World Cup where injuries more often than not limit options in team selection, Jones is in the fortunate position of being spoilt for choice at the sharp end.

Four years ago, England were still not sure who their best fly-half was and that uncertainty bled into their entire World Cup campaign.

Ford was jettisoned for Owen Farrell after just one game and from there the wheels came off.

But this time around, Jones has nailed his colours to Ford’s mast and the Leicester Tiger continues to repay him in spades.

England were not allowed to build phases for much of this clash as the plucky Pumas spoiled and frustrated where possible.

But Ford proved he can still produce his best when the pack are not getting an armchair ride.

His kicking from hand turned the Pumas back three and he produced a couple of super touch finders early in the second half as England tightened the noose.

His passing remains some of the best in world rugby, hitting Jonny May outside for the opening score and then feeding Daly for the second.

And it was only fitting that it was Ford who burst onto Youngs’ pass at the start of the second half to secure the bonus point.

Nowell’s scoring return and the arch-finishing of May might get the headlines but England’s fundamentals remain in good working order as well.

Their scrum destroyed the Pumas throughout and in a game that saw 18 handling errors, 13 of which were by the Pumas, that was always going to make it an uphill task for Mario Ledesma’s side.

Of course, it is much easier when Argentina’s pack are a man down for much of it – but Kyle Sinckler and then Dan Cole both turned the screw time after time.

After a couple of early misfires the lineout clicked into gear as well.

The rolling maul had been the Pumas’ chief weapon so far this tournament, but they were on the receiving end here.

In the first half, most of the backs piled in to help the forward maul get close to the line. And having successfully shortened up the Pumas, Ford hit May for the opening score.

In the second half however, the pack kept the glory all for themselves as Cowan-Dickie made it three tries in three so far this World Cup.

England still have some things to ponder of course, Owen Farrell missed four kicks at goal in the first half alone, while Jones will also be sweating on the fitness of No.8 Billy Vunipola who was withdrawn at half-time with a twisted ankle.

But games against 14 men are seldom a stroll, and after taking 15 points from 15 so far at this World Cup, Jones’ men appear to be building nicely.