Ireland's Jonathan Sexton celebrates after scoring a try against Argentina in their international rugby union match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Reuters
Ireland scored seven tries in a 46-24 demolition of Argentina
to ensure they will be seeded when the draw is made for the
next rugby World Cup, and leave the South Americans waiting
to find out if they will join them.
Ireland had to win the match, billed as the most important
either side would likely play this side of the 2015
tournament, to book a place in the second tier of seeds for
the December 3 draw, and four tries in a blistering first
half got them on their way.
Debutant wing Craig Gilroy got a first international try, as
did the recently blooded Simon Zebo and Richardt Strauss,
while Jonathan Sexton and Tommy Bowe got a brace each to
maintain Ireland's unbeaten home record against Argentina.
"You never in your wildest dreams think you're going to get
that number of tries against an Argentinean side but, if
things click, they're well capable of doing that," coach
Declan Kidney told a news conference.
Argentina, who only managed two late tries, fell out of the
world's top eight and will stay there if Wales beat Australia
next weekend. An Australian victory will push Argentina back
in and see them avoid a potentially tougher World Cup pool
Santiago Phelan's side began the day in sixth place but
Samoa's narrow defeat to France was enough to provisionally
push them ahead of Argentina in eighth by the narrowest of
Argentina, who beat Six Nations champions Wales 26-12 two
weeks ago to put them in the better position going into the
game, simply had no answer to a rampant Irish side who put
five successive defeats behind them in the best possible
Missing first-team regulars Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney,
Paul O'Connell, Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien and Rory Best,
Kidney gave Ulster's Gilroy a first start and the 21-year-old
flyer inspired the hosts to victory.
The winger, who scored a hat-trick in a non-cap win over Fiji
last week, got his full international career off with a bang
as he jinked past one Argentine tackler and between another
two before touching down and being mobbed by team mates.
Sexton, whose inside pass had set Gilroy free, added the
conversion and, while Nicolas Sanchez got back three points
for the visitors, Ireland were back under the posts within
Gilroy, not yet an established starter at provincial level
with Ulster, was involved again and more free-flowing rugby
from the hosts culminated in Sexton exchanging passes with
Leinster team mate Gordon D'Arcy before crashing over.
Sanchez was once more gifted a chance to trim the advantage
but Ireland, who had managed only two tries in their previous
five games, made it three in 20 minutes when Strauss sneaked
into the corner for his first try in his second Irish start.
Argentina finally made it deep into Irish territory on the
half-hour and were unlucky to come away with just three
points but Ireland were at it again from the restart with
Munster fullback Zebo joining the list of maiden try scorers.
Sexton missed his second conversion in a row but Sanchez was
off target too with a penalty a few minutes later to leave
Ireland a comfortable 24-9 in front at the break.
The flyhalves traded penalties in the opening minutes of the
second half before the ever-commanding Sexton spotted a gap
behind the Argentine back three for Ulster winger Bowe to
speed through for his first try of the game.
Sexton's mixed day with the boot continued but he more than
made up for it with a second try three minutes later as
Ireland finally began to produce the kind of attacking rugby
that has seen Leinster dominate the European club game.
The game, the 11th between the sides in 14 years, petered out
in the last quarter with the main highlight being Argentina
prop Maximiliano Bustos's sin-binning for throwing the ball
in Cian Healy's face until Bowe got his 26th try for Ireland.
Replacement Tomas Leonardi and captain Juan Martin Fernandez
Lobbe grabbed two consolation tries for Argentina whose minds
now shift to Cardiff next Saturday.
"In rugby, the one that wants it the most normally wins and
that's what happened today. We got overplayed in every aspect
of the game," Lobbe said bluntly.