Ireland too good for lacklustre Pumas
November 28, 2010
Ireland's Stephen Ferris coasts in to score at Lansdowne Road
© PA Photos
Ireland rounded out their end of year campaign with a 29-9 victory over Argentina at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.
Tries from flanker Stephen Ferris and centre Gordon D'Arcy along with 17 points from the boot of fly-half Jonathan Sexton powered the hosts to a record albeit ugly victory over the Pumas who had just three penalties from No.10 Felipe Contepomi to show for their efforts.
As a result Ireland finished a largely disappointing autumn on a positive note but despite adding to their previous victory over Samoa it was still a frustrating day for Declan Kidney's side who failed to put their lacklustre opponents to the sword.
Contepomi looked to capitalise on his pack's early dominance with a drop goal attempt from 35m but his effort drifted wide of the posts. But the Pumas were soon on the front foot again with an impressive rolling maul driving Ireland back to their own line before hooker Mario Ledesma was held up as he tried to burrow his way over. Ireland were penalised as the Pumas turned the screw at the resulting scrum and the visitors could have been awarded a penalty try only for referee Mark Lawrence to award the next feed to the hosts who then cleared the danger.
A break out from centre Gordon D'Arcy then had Argentina scrambling in defence and another from winger Andrew Trimble eventually drew a penalty from the Pumas that Sexton kicked to open the scores. Centre Marcelo Bosch looked to post an immediate response for the visitors but his ugly-looking attempt at a drop goal was never in danger of levelling the scores.
Ireland's efforts with ball in hand were much more pleasing on the eye. D'Arcy and skipper Brian O'Driscoll took the game to the Pumas in midfield before winger Tommy Bowe stretched the visitor's defence yet further. No.8 Jamie Heaslip then loomed up in support and straightened to create the space for Ferris to slip the tackle of Lucas Amorosino and score in the corner. Sexton's conversion extended his side's lead and Contepomi missed a chance to reduce the arrears when he hooked his first shot at the posts shortly after.
The Irish lineout provided the platform the home side's next foray into the Pumas' 22 with loose-head Cian Healey and hooker Sean Cronin earning some hard yards. But Argentina strayed offside to allow Sexton to slot an easy three and put further daylight between the two sides. His latest effort was soon cancelled out by Contepomi after Irish lock Donncha O'Callaghan was caught offside at the re-start but tug on Irish scrum-half Peter Stringer's shirt by Ledesma undid his fly-half's work and saw Sexton land his third penalty.
Contepomi's woes from the kicking tee continued with another penalty miss as the half drew to a close and Ireland had the final say with Sexton kicking his fourth penalty after the Pumas were guilty of going off their feet in the shadow of posts.
Ireland began the second half in a lively manner but it was Argentina who were handed the first scoring opportunity thanks largely to the efforts of their pack. But Contepomi continued to struggle with his latest shot at the posts falling wide.
Argentina revitalised their front row with the introduction of props Marcos Ayerza and Juan Figallo but the Irish pack continued to held their own. But the Pumas remained a threat and found a cutting edge in attack with Amorosino gliding through at pace only to lack support when it mattered most. Instead they had to rely on the boot of Contepomi to notch some due reward for their efforts.
An increased urgency continued to serve the tourists well but the referee's interpretation of the scrum battle won him no friends amongst the Pumas. Any feint hopes Argentina may have had of sparking an unlikely turnaround were dealt a blow when Sexton landed a long range penalty just past the hour mark but Contepomi kept his side's challenge alive with his third successful kick two minutes later.
A scything run from Argentina fullback Martin Rodriguez Gurruchage then split the Irish defence but a lack of support and ideas saw another opportunity slip away while a promising Irish attack also came to nothing with replacement Keith Earls opting to kick possession away.
The Pumas' pack raised their game in the closing minutes but Ireland would end the game on the front foot. An attacking lineout deep in Argentina's half provided the platform with the boot of replacement fly-half Ronan O'Gara then finding space inside the 22. Bowe led the race to the ball but the bounce fell for speedster Keith Earls only for his score to be ruled out by the Television Match Official.
But the Irish were not to be denied with a big surge at the following scrum securing the next feed and the ball was then worked wide to D'Arcy who chipped over the Pumas' defence before claiming his own kick and touching down for the score. O'Gara slotted the conversion to set the seal on a comfortable if not impressive victory.
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