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Ireland end on a high

28th November 2010 13:42

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Ireland: Power past Pumas

Ireland ended their November Test series on a high thanks to a hard-fought 29-9 victory over Argentina at Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't ugly either - but it was effective as fly-half Jonathan Sexton contributed seventeen points with the boot to keep his untroubled side ahead of an uninspired Pumas outfit.

A late try from Gordon D'Arcy in injury time flattered Ireland's final scoreline a wee bit, but the end result was never in doubt as the home side were always on top in a rather dour contest.

Once they fell behind, Argentina's conservative game-plan was badly exposed and, in the end, they had only a trio of Felipe Contepomi penalties to show for their efforts. The Pumas pivot missed three shots at goal, and Argentina also failed to sink two drop-goal attempts.

Freezing conditions greeted both teams, with the Aviva Stadium passing a morning pitch inspection despite heavy snowfall over the last 48 hours. However if the crowd expected to be warmed up with an entertaining game of rugby - they were to be highly disappointed.

After a diabolical display against the Springboks, Ireland picked up a scratchy win over Samoa, and then tested the All Blacks with a determined but ultimately insufficient effort. Their first-half performance against Argentina was encouraging, although their consistency left a lot to be desired.

The hosts showed some resilience in the first 10 minutes when Argentina enjoyed terrific momentum through the rolling maul and scrum. But while the Pumas started strongly up front, their discipline cost them dear and it didn't take long for Sexton to get the first three-pointer on the board.

With the momentum provided by the pack, the Irish runners produced several good touches. Stephen Ferris rounded off some sparkling interplay between forwards and backs in the 21st minute.

The blindside flanker, who passed a fitness test on his ankle to make the starting XV, was left with a simple finish out on the right after his back-row colleague Jamie Heaslip had burst through and drawn the final line of defence.

Sexton converted and added three further penalties before half-time to put Ireland 19-3 up at the break, the Pumas' only points having come via Contepomi's 31st-minute penalty.

The second half was a tight affair, clear-cut chances few and far between as both sides instead relied on the boot of their respective fly-halves.

Sexton added a further penalty to take his personal tally to 17 before making way for veteran Ronan O'Gara for the final 12 minutes.

Contepomi, who also missed three penalty chances, landed kicks of his own in the 58th and 68th minutes to reduce Argentina's deficit to 22-9. But Ireland remained resolute in defence and never looked likely to surrender their lead.

Replacement Keith Earls was denied a late try when the video referee ruled he had knocked on but moments later centre D'Arcy did manage to seal the win in style, collecting his own chip over the top before touching down.

The scorers:

For Ireland:
Try: Ferris
Con: Sexton, O'Gara
Pens: Sexton 5

For Argentina:
Pens: Contepomi 3

Ireland: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Tommy Bowe 13 Brian O'Driscoll (c) 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Peter Stringer , 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements:16 Damien Varley, 17 Tom Court, 18 Devin Toner, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Eoin Reddan , 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Keith Earls.

Argentina: 15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Marcelo Bosch, 11 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 10 Felipe Contepomi (c), 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Julio Farias Cabello, 6 Genaro Fessia, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Martin Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Santiago Guzman, 20 Alvaro Galindo, 21 Alfredo Lalanne, 22 Lucas Borges.

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

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