Head coach Eddie Jones hailed “a great achievement” as his side became only the second England team to complete a series whitewash in Argentina.
Jones’ men followed up their dramatic 38-34 win in San Juan a week earlier with a more assured 35-25 victory in the second Test in Santa Fe to register an eighth successive win over the 2015 World Cup semi-finalists, who will also provide the opposition for England in Japan in 2019.
“It is a great achievement,” said Jones. “I am very pleased for the team, I am pleased for the young players, I am pleased that they have got some more growth in them.
“It is now a chance to move forward. We have to try to fit 61 players into a 45-man EPS squad. That’s the next big thing I need to do.”
Without 30 players due to injury and British and Irish Lions duty, this tour was all about blooding youngsters with an eye on the next World Cup and players like Sam Underhill, Tom Curry and Piers Francis all strengthened their cases.
However, England were also indebted to the experience of George Ford, Mike Brown, Chris Robshaw and Joe Launchbury as they saw off a determined Pumas outfit inspired by the raucous atmosphere generated by a near-capacity crowd of 29,750 at Estadio CA Colon.
“A few guys have done really well,” added Jones. “Harry Williams, Charlie Ewels, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill at openside flanker, Mark Wilson has proved himself to be a very competent player. In the back-line Piers Francis and Alex Lozowski are worth looking at, also Denny Solomona. Nathan Earle didn’t play but we will keep looking at him as well.
“I thought Robshaw and Brown were absolutely exceptional. They showed why they are 50-cap Test players.”
England took a narrow 18-13 lead into half-time following maiden international tries from lock Charlie Ewels and centre Francis in addition to eight points from the boot of Ford, while Argentina scored through Joaquin Tuculet’s touchdown and two penalties from Nicholas Sanchez.
Pablo Matera dotted down to level the scores before England scrum-half Danny Care and Argentina winger Emiliano Boffelli traded tries to make it 25-25. But Will Collier’s try from the back of an England maul and a Ford drop-goal sealed the victory.
“Those see-saw games are terrible,” added Jones. “It was only once George Ford kicked a field goal to put us 10 ahead that we had breathing space.
“I was really pleased at how we stuck at the game. We improved our forward play in the second half after being completely outgunned in the first half. We changed the way we kicked and played really well off their mistakes.
“George Ford was brilliant. It was not a great attacking game from him today – he had to find a way. We did not have much ball, but kicking that field goal at the end was tactically brilliant.
“I think in each game we found a way to score points. Today wasn’t a great performance for us but we were able to maximise any errors Argentina made and turned them into points.
“It is always good to win and always good to win against a tough opponent like Argentina. I think it has been a great Test series, some really good rugby and I think Argentina should be congratulated on the sort of rugby that they play.”
England captain Dylan Hartley says he will enjoy his summer holiday all the more for having ended the 2016-17 season by leading his side to a series victory in Argentina.
“That’s what we came to do,” said Hartley, who played in all 160 minutes on the two-match tour.
“If anything, it exceeded our hopes and expectations because we learned so much about ourselves and the development of the team. Overall, to win two games, that was the objective and I think we can be really proud of ourselves.
“They were not the perfect games but we found ways to win them both.
“It was an unbelievable effort, to have 20 new players on tour, but the collective effort from all the guys was amazing as well,” Hartley said.
“It’s been easy to lead this team, the buy-in has been brilliant, I couldn’t have asked for a better group.
“I think English rugby is in a safe place with the depth that we’ve got.
“I’d like to think Eddie is pretty chuffed as well. We’re all very proud of each other. It was a big achievement, against an experienced Argentinian side in the rural parts, in hostile atmospheres. Being on the road has been difficult but we’ve found out a lot about each other.
“If we had lost (on Saturday), it would have left a bad taste in the mouth.”
England: Brown, Yarde, Slade, Francis, May, Ford, Care; Genge, Hartley, Williams, Ewels, Launchbury, Robshaw, S Underhill, Hughes. Replacements: Singleton, Mullan, Collier, Isiekwe, Wilson, Maunder, Lozowski, Solomona.
Argentina: Tuculet, Moyano, Orlando, de la Fuente, Boffelli, Sánchez, Landajo; Noguera Paz, Creevy, Pieretto, Alemanno, Lavanini, Matera, Ortega Desio, Leguizamón. Replacements: Montoya, Tetaz Chaparro, Herrera, Petti, Lezana, Bertanou, Hernández, Moroni.