Saints star Wood prepares England for Pumas backlash

WARNING - England skipper Tom Wood
WARNING - England skipper Tom Wood
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Saints star Tom Wood has steeled England for a “blood and thunder” encounter against Argentina as they look to complete an unbeaten South American tour with a 2-0 Test series triumph.

The skipper felt his side delivered one of their best performances in recent times in defeating the Pumas 32-3 in Salta last weekend - a match he stressed was tougher than the final scoreline suggests.

But, with Argentina promising a passionate backlash at the Velez Sarsfield tonight, Wood has demanded England hit them with the same intensity.

At stake is a small piece of history. It is 32 years since England last won a Test series in Argentina and they have never done it with a clean sweep of victories.

“We recognise a massive hurdle awaits us,” Wood said.

“The Argentinians have got their backs against the wall. They are suffering from a bit of hurt pride and everything feels on a grander scale this week.

“I fully expect it will be a blood and thunder Test match.

“I think people looked upon that last Test as an easy victory because we pulled away early and seemed to score tries with ease in the first half. It was by no stretch of the imagination an easy victory.

“They were very good. They tackled hard, they ran hard and got the offloads in early. It was our defence that nullified them and after 15 minutes I felt they were looking around thinking ‘we can’t crack them’.

“It was our intensity, the big hits we put in early, which set the tone of the game. Had we not done that, the game would have been very different.

“I felt that was as good as we have been in a long while. If we don’t do the same this week, if we go in with expectations of an easy ride then the outcome will be very different.”

England feature two changes for the second Test. London Irish wing Marland Yarde makes his debut in place David Strettle - the sixth new cap blooded by Stuart Lancaster on the tour.

Kyle Eastmond made his debut off the bench last week and gets his first start at inside centre, after Billy Twelvetrees was called up by the British and Irish Lions.

Saints fly-half Stephen Myler could win his first cap after being named on the bench, alongside club-mates Ben Foden and Courtney Lawes, while Lee Dickson again starts at scrum-half.

The game will be shown live on BBC 2 at 8.10pm.