Ireland – 28
Argentina – 17
Sean McMahon reporting from the Aviva Stadium
Ireland have won their second successive match of this year’s November series after overcoming Argentina in what was at times, an error-strewn performance from Joe Schmidt’s side.
A performance like this next week against the All Blacks will not be good enough and that message will undoubtedly be driven home as Ireland return to their base in Carton House next week.
Injuries to the likes of Kieran Marmion and Sean O’Brien put a sour note on the night but Ireland will be happy with how they continuously responded to an Argentina side who refused to go away for most of this match.
Tries from Marmion and Bundee Aki in the first half gave Ireland the narrowest of leads going into the break but the replacements gave Ireland extra urgency as they powered home to victory thanks to tries from Luke McGrath and more points from the boot of Johnny Sexton.
Ireland showed attacking intent from the first minute when they decided to run the ball out of their own 22 after Argentina started the game with the kick-off. They made good progress up the pitch until Jordan Larmour found himself isolated which allowed Javier Ortega Desio to latch onto the ball and win a penalty for his side. Nicolas Sanchez stepped up and he made no mistake to give his side a 0-3 lead after just three minutes.
Ireland responded as you would expect and this is where Argentina’s problem with discipline became all too obvious. From a Peter O’Mahony turnover in the middle of the pitch, Ireland were camped in Argentina’s 22 as the away side conceded penalties for multiple infractions.
Joe Schmidt’s side were eventually held up over the line and from the resulting scrum, Ireland pushed their visitors back a couple of metres before Kieran Marmion showed great awareness to pick the ball up and crash over the line to get Ireland off the mark. Johnny Sexton missed the conversion but Ireland were now in the lead.
A feature of this first-half was Ireland failing to deal with the Argentinian kickoffs and this led to Argentina taking the lead. Argentina went through the phases after winning possession which ended in O’Mahony conceding a penalty at the breakdown right in front of the posts. Sanchez made no mistake and Argentina were back in the lead.
Numerous errors from Ireland contributed to their poor first half showing – a high tackle from Sean O’Brien and a knock on from Jacob Stockdale soon ensued and it was the Ulsterman’s mistake which led to Mario Ledesma’s side’s first try of the game.
From the resulting scrum setpiece, Matias Orlando receiving a flat pass as he burst through the Irish rearguard. The ball went through the hands to Jeronimo De La Fuente and then Ramiro Moyano who was hauled down just metres from the Irish line.
Ireland’s defence was scattered and Sanchez then sent the ball wide to Bautista Delguy who had an easy run into the corner which put Argentina 5-11 in front.
Oddly enough, a mistake from Ireland led to their next try. James Ryan spilled the ball forward when attempting to set up a maul after receiving it from Iain Henderson. However, Ireland won the resulting scrum against the head which won them back possession.
After a sustained period of pressure from the resulting penalty, Sexton put Bundee Aki through a gap with a lovely flat pass and the Connacht centre was never going to be stopped so close to the line. Sexton was accurate with the extras this time to give Ireland a 12-11 lead with about 15 minutes of the first half remaining.
Bundee Aki was pinged for a high tackle which allowed Sanchez to put his side back into the lead but on the stroke of halftime, Sexton added a long-range three-pointer of his own to give Ireland a narrow 15-14 lead at the break. Unfortunately, for Leinster and Ireland, Sean O’Brien was removed from the field of play with a serious looking arm injury just before the break.
Argentina got off to a strong start after the interval when Sanchez put his side back into the lead after Dan Leavy was penalised for tackling a player off his feet. The home side then responded as Sexton put Ireland back in front at the midway point of the second half with another penalty and then less than 10 minutes later, they finally put some distance between themselves and their southern hemisphere opponents when Luke McGrath got Ireland’s third try of the game.
The converted score gave Ireland a 25-17 lead and finally some breathing room. With five minutes remaining, Schmidt’s side hammered home the result with another three points from Sexton to extend the lead to 28-17 before he was replaced by Joey Carbery.
Ireland: Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls, Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Kieran Marmion, Cian Healy (McGrath 53′), Rory Best (c) (Cronin 58′), Tadhg Furlong (Porter 68′), Iain Henderson (Toner 58′), James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien (Dan Leavy 38′), CJ Stander.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, CJ Stander
Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Bautista Delguy, Martias Orlando, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli, Santiago Garcia Botta, Agustin Creevy, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera (c), Guido Petti, Javier Ortega Desio.
Replacements: Julian Montoya, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Lucio Sordoni, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Lezana, Gonzalo Bertranou, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Matias Moroni.