Bath Rugby’s Charlie Ewels and George Ford showed their international quality, as England secured a last minute 38-34 victory against Argentina in San Juan.
Nicolas Sanchez missed an early penalty before his grubber kick behind the England line enabled Emiliano Boffelli to get round Marland Yarde to dot down.
George Ford reduced the deficit with a penalty while soon after, England’s forwards powered the side to Argentina’s 22m line and after being penalised at a ruck, Ford sent over his second penalty.
Ellis Genge turned the ball over near his own 22m and England produced several phases of stunning rugby, with Alex Lozowski picking a fine line to scythe through the Argentina defence and after several offloads in contact Ford released the fleet-footed Yarde who side-stepped past the final defender on the right wing and flew over.
However, another turnover resulted in another try – this time for Argentina - and after barracking their way to England’s tryline, Lavanini showed great strength to bundle over. Sanchez’s conversion gave Argentina a two-point lead in what had been an intense opening half which saw England make nearly twice as many tackles as their opponents: 70-37.
On the stroke of half-time Sanchez increased that lead to send Argentina into half-time 17-13 up.
Ford sent over his third penalty as England began the second-half in fine fashion.
Having gone close moments earlier, but for a thumping tackle on Dylan Hartley, England had their second try with Henry Slade producing a moment of magic to kick behind the Argentina defence and May was the grateful recipient on the left wing.
The see-saw nature of the game continued as de la Fuente finished off Martin Landajo’s break through midfield and soon after their lead grew with a length of the field try, moving the ball beautifully from their own 22m before Tuculet flew over in the corner. Sanchez converted both to give Los Pumas an eight-point lead.
Ford’s immaculate game continued with his fourth penalty as England went to within a try of Argentina and after a fine offload from debutant Pier Francis, the Bath fly-half finished off the break to level the game.
An epic final 10 minutes saw Hernandez send over a late drop goal before Denny Solomona produced a moment of magic to fend off one tackle before searing past two Argentina defenders to cross in a stunning finish to the match.
Ford, voted man of the match by England Rugby fans, converted for his 23rd points of the game as England sealed a memorable victory to get their two-Test tour off to a winning start.
"We couldn't quite get a grip of the game but what a finish from Denny at the end," said Ford after the match.
"The boys put a massive shift in, they were running around there like madmen. The first game of the tour, it’s always nice to start with a win. We know it will be harder next week."
The game marked several notable landmarks for England.
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs) and Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) all made their international debuts.
Curry also became the youngest England starter since Colin Laird in 1927 while captains Dylan Hartley won his 85th cap for England to move ahead of former captain Martin Johnson and alongside Rory Underwood and Lawrence Dallaglio as the third-equal most capped England international of all time.
Solomona replaced Yarde on 50 minutes to make his England debut as did Will Collier, Don Armand, Nick Isiekwe and Jack Maunder.