Ireland target final flourish against Pumas
November 26, 2010
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip was a star performer against the All Blacks last time out © PA Photos
Ireland will look to build on a positive yet fruitless display against New Zealand when Argentina visit Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Sunday.
Declan Kidney's side were swept aside by the All Blacks last weekend but showed glimpses of a brighter future to those fans who had endured a narrow defeat to South Africa and a lacklustre showing in victory over Samoa.
Argentina began their autumn campaign with a win against Italy in Verona but came up short against France in Montpellier. They have never tasted success over Ireland in Dublin but may sense a chance to re-write the record books.
Ireland - Player to Watch: No.8 Jamie Heaslip was back to his rampaging best against the All Blacks and we can expect the Pumas to get similar treatment.
Ireland - Team News: Geordan Murphy comes in at fullback in place of the injured Rob Kearney and Andrew Trimble has been selected on the left wing, which was occupied by Luke Fitzgerald in the last game. Peter Stringer is selected at scrum-half to win his 95th cap. There are two changes to the front row with Sean Cronin taking over form Rory Best and Tony Buckley, who missed the last two games due to a hip injury, coming into the team at tight-head in place of Tom Court, who reverts to the replacements. Hooker Damien Varley is in line for his home debut off the bench.
Argentina - Player to Watch: Fly-half Felipe Contepomi is no stranger to Irish rugby fans from his days with Leinster and his side's chances rest on his ability to keep the hosts on the back foot.
Argentina - Team News: Leicester Tigers wing Horacio Agulla starts in the back-three alongside club team-mate Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and Stade Francais' Martin Rodriguez, while Biarritz's Marcelo Bosch is drafted in at inside-centre in place of Montpellier's Santiago Fernandez. In the back-row, Julio Farias Cabello replaces Miguel de Achaval and will make his full debut after coming off the bench last weekend.
Key Battle: The formidable Pumas front row of Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma and Martin Scelzo will pack their usual punch and their showdown with Ireland's Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tony Buckley at scrum time will go a long way to setting the tone for the clash as a whole.
Trivia: On their last visit to Lansdowne Road the hosts edged out the Pumas 21-19 thanks to an injury time drop goal from fly-half Ronan O'Gara.
Stats: O'Gara has bagged 55 points in six appearances against the Pumas but will have to wait to add to that tally as he starts from the bench.
"You can't really knock them for bringing passion and everything that comes with it. It's just something you have to embrace and try to match." - Ireland's Denis Leamy looks forwards to another intense encounter with the Pumas
"Looking to the long term we want to continue improving our game. Maybe today Ireland are a small step above us but we are confident we can have a good match." - Pumas centre Gonzalo Tiesi plays down his side's chances.
Prediction: Clashes between these sides do not normally want for a physical edge and another bruising encounter awaits but having remembered how to play last weekend the hosts should have the guile to see off a determined effort from the tourists.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points