Ireland blow Argentina away
Sat, 24 Nov 2012 15:48
Ireland No.10 Sexton takes our Man of the Match Award
Ireland recorded a convincing 46-24 win over Argentina in Dublin on Saturday - a surprisingly big win for the home side who dominated exchanges up front.
The hosts would have been expected to win, especially at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, but their victory was emphatic as the seven-try-to-two scoreline reflects.
Ireland led 24-9 at half-time, with flyhalf Johnny Sexton scoring 19 of his team's points on the day for their second win of the autumn (having lost to the Springboks a fortnight ago), against a Pumas side that won in Cardiff two weeks ago.
An under-pressure Ireland turned on the style to score seven tries against Santiago Phelan's men, in a comprehensive display that made one question how they had endured such a torrid 2012 to date.
Stand-off Sexton, Craig Gilroy, Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe stood out for the hosts, and it took two tries in the last five minutes to make the scoreline look less embarrassing for Argentina.
Incredibly, observers had struggled to pick a winner in this game - pre kick-off, at least - with a question hanging over which side would be sharpest.
When Ireland hammered Fiji 53-0 in last weekend's non-cap international in Limerick, it was done with just three players from the team that had lost to South Africa the week before. Craig Gilroy, the trick Ulster winger, bagged a hat-trick and he was the only one to force his way into the starting line-up against Argentina, and it proved to be an inspired call.
Argentina, meanwhile, were playing their 12th game of the season, a year in which they made their debut in the southern hemisphere's all-new Rugby Championship.
They beat Wales 26-12 two weeks ago, before going down 39-22 to France last Saturday, but had promised that they would not be tired when they landed in Dublin.
The first half suggested otherwise. Not only were their legs and lungs expended, their necks will have hurt trying to keep track of a rampant Irish backline.
Phelan started all bar three of the team that beat Wales a fortnight ago, with Maximiliano Bustos making his debut in the front row.
However, it was Ireland debutant Gilroy who is most likely to frame his cap from this clash.
The Ulster man took just 11 minutes to score, and when he did it was with a shimmying run that fans of Barcelona's football superstar Lionel Messi would have appreciated.
Conor Murray fed Sexton from the back of a maul, the out-half drew Santiago Fernandez, and his inside pass found Gilroy, who had plenty yet to do.
Three stunning side-steps later and the 21-year-old touched down.
It was a sixth try in three appearances in green, although the first one to count officially.
Sexton added a second try five minutes later, after some great work from club mate Gordon D'Arcy, and in doing so the out-half passed 250 points for Ireland.
Having scored just two tries in their previous five tests, Ireland added a third on 21 minutes when Richardt Strauss got his first international try, forcing home after a maul from his own line-out.
Argentina put Ireland under fleeting pressure, and Martin Landajo's break required late intervention from Donnacha Ryan and Zebo to stop a certain try.
As if irked by the attempt to score, Ireland upped a gear and after a monster catch from Bowe off a Garryowen, Ireland pummeled the Argentine defence, and eventually it was Zebo touched who touched down in the corner for his first try.
It took just six minutes for Ireland to prove they had learned from the second-half collapse against South Africa, when Bowe sprinted after a clever chip from Sexton, outpacing Landajo and Juan Imhoff to collect the ball and score.
The Irish were not interested in leaving anything to chance, and Sexton scored his second - and Ireland's sixth - on 52 minutes, once more showing some great footwork to step inside the cover and stroll home.
Ireland emptied the bench, as Argentina laboured on with 14 after Bustos was sent to the sin bin, and Bowe went over to register his 26th international try.
Leonardi and Lobbe crossed the Irish line as the minutes counted down, but this clash was over before the half-time whistle.
Man of the Match: The Irish pack dominated the show and nobody was better than lock Donnacha Ryan. However, our award goes to the Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, for his match-winning performance. Not only did he dictate terms in general play, but he scored two of his team's seven tries, kicked three conversions and a penalty for a personal contribution of 19 points.
Moment of the Match: There were seven great tries from the Irish, but that 10-minute blitz in the first quarter - when new wing Craig Gilroy (11th minute), flyhalf Jonathan Sexton (16th minute) and hooker Richardt Strauss (20th minute) scored tries - took the game away from the Pumas.
Villain of the Match: This one if easy. It goes to Pumas prop Maximiliano Bustos, who put his team - already under pressure - in even more trouble when he was yellow-carded in the 64th minute.
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