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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Hartley to soak up argy-bargy

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley

ENGLAND v ARGENTINA, Live Sky Sports 2 (KO 2.30)

Dylan Hartley (inset) insists England are forging a new identity inspired by history that has transformed playing at Twickenham into an exhilarating experience.

"We thrive on being at home - 'this is Twickenham, this is our home ground, we are going to control what happens here today'."

The expectation is that England will win comfortably against Argentina and extend their triumphant sequence to nine victories in 10 matches, although the forward-orientated Pumas will offer stiff resistance.

BENCH

It offers Hartley the opportunity to stake his claim to selection against New Zealand next Saturday and keep Tom Youngs on the bench.

"There's loads of talk about what Argentina will be bringing which is nice as it sounds like it will be a really forward-dominated game. That's perfect," Hartley said.

"I'm looking forward to it. It will be set-piece orientated, physical around the breakdown and played at close-quarters.

"England's forwards didn't miss a tackle against Australia and we are going to have to be bloody good this weekend to replicate that."

The Wallabies were dispatched 20-13 last Saturday but while the result was pleasing, the display drew criticism. Hartley believes England will have benefited from having played already.

"We have to perform and win, I would agree with that. You can probably be excused for the first game, having had a week together and you can't underestimate that," he said.

"Australia had been together for 10 Tests as a team. It is almost like being a club team that, they must know each other inside-out.

"For us to come together, play a flat first half and win against a top side like that is great. If we want to make a statement and move on we need to beat another top side in Argentina."

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers has predicted "a fierce battle" when the Springboks tackle reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Wales today.

"We are well-prepared," said De Villiers, who resumes his long and successful midfield partnership with a recalled Jaque Fourie.

"This team has come a long way in the last couple of months. I think we've improved drastically in certain areas and hopefully we can take that into this game."

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