Owen Farrell hailed England’s versatility as the team survived a “scrappy game” to beat Argentina 26-23 to claim third place at the Rugby World Cup on Friday.
England finished third in the tournament for the first time after Nicolas Sanchez’ unsuccessful late penalty for the Pumas that would have drawn the sides level in the closing minutes.
England skipper Farrell kicked 16 points at the Stade de France as No 8 Ben Earl and hooker Theo Dan also crossed for the 2003 winners.
“I thought we started really well. It was a scrappy game after that,” the Saracens fly-half said.
“On the back of another six-day turnaround and a narrow loss last week, it was great to win tonight.
“You have to be able to play rugby a few ways and we are developing that and hopefully it will keep improving. I know we will improve,” Farrell said.
Argentina coach Michael Cheika slammed refereeing decisions from Nic Berry after the loss, especially as they pressed late on for what would have been a decisive try.
“The players deserve better today,” Australian Cheika said.
“I’m certainly disappointed by the way the game was run, the way the game was refereed and the consistency in that.
“I know we’re one of the lower nations. We’re not England, New Zealand, South Africa but at the end of the day, it’s hard.
“I feel for the lads,” he added.
Cheika took over from Mario Ledesma in March 2022 and reports in Argentina claim former Pumas centre and current backs coach Felipe Contepomi will replace Cheika after the World Cup.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” former Wallabies boss Cheika said of his future with Los Pumas.
“I’ll go to Argentina later in the year and we’ll have a talk about how things went and what the future holds.
“It’s not really what I’m thinking about.”
Farrell’s half-back partner Ben Youngs ended his Test career on his 129th international appearance.
“The game has given me so much,” scrum-half Youngs said.
“I have got huge friendships and bonds not just in this England team, but people I have played against for years.
“I have a bucketload of memories and I am very grateful, so thank you everyone.
“I will have a beer and enjoy myself with the boys tonight,” the 34-year-old added.
England reacted well to last Saturday’s dramatic 16-15 loss to South Africa in the semi-final.
Their next game will be February’s Six Nations trip to Italy in Steve Borthwick’s second year as head coach.
“It is something we spoke about in the group. We are still heartbroken from last weekend,” try-scorer Dan said.
“The performance was something we were proud of and we want to build momentum and grind out a result, today we achieved that.”
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