The fly-half emulated Jonny Wilkinson against Argentina in Marseille

England fly-half George Ford rolled back the years to nail three stunning drop-goals in the first-half of his side’s opening World Cup clash against Argentina in Marseille.

The Sale Sharks man dropped into the pocket with regularity to boot his side into a 12-3 lead at the break. It was the perfect riposte from Steve Borthwick’s side who lost flanker Tom Curry to a red card after just three minutes. 

Read more: Curry sent off just three minutes in v Argentina

Curry became the first England player to be sent off at a World Cup in his very first game under Steve Borthwick after missing the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup warm-ups through injury.

Ford, however, was undeterred and showed impressive composure to keep the scoreboard ticking for the 14 men of England in a display that drew immediate comparisons with South African Jannie de Beer’s performance against England in the 1999 World Cup when his five drop goals propelled the Springboks to a quarter-final victory.

Ford’s first effort came after 27 minutes and he backed it up with two more in the next ten minutes to turn the screw against the Pumas. Two of Ford’s efforts came from virtually the halfway line, while his third, three minutes before half-time, was dinked over from inside the 22.

England’s 2003 World Cup final drop-goal hero Jonny Wilkinson was on the ITV punditry team for the game and was clearly impressed with his fellow No 10’s antics. Ford joined Wilkinson on the list of players to have slotted three drop goals in a World Cup match, joint second behind De Beer’s feat. Wilkinson achieved the feat 20 years ago in the semi-final victory over France.

Wilkinson confirmed that three drop goals in the first half was “certainly something I’ve never done before”.

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