AND SOMEHOW, IT has all come down to this.
Yes, Ireland enter their do-or-die final November international knowing that defeat will push us outside of the world’s top eight and so leave us as third seeds for the Rugby World Cup group draw coming up in December… but we’re positive, right?
Yeah, we can do this!
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Ireland 46 – 24 Argentina
13:23 – Hello there and a very good afternoon to you.
You join us in loads of time for the big kick off in the Aviva Stadium.
While you wait around for that first whistle, ease the tension (or build it up) by reading our previews from the two camps in the links below.
13:28 – And as TheScore.ie makes its way from the warm hearth of the Aviva’s media room the to harsh cold reality of the stand (I know, it’s a very, very sad story) here are the teams that will do battle in just over 30 minute’s time.
Ireland: S Zebo; T Bowe, Kh Earls, G D’Arcy, C Gilroy; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross; D Ryan, M McCarthy; P O’Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip (c).
Replacements: S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, M Bent, D O’Callaghan, I Henderson, E Reddan, R O’Gara, F McFadden.
Argentina: J M Hernandez; G Camacho, M Bosch, S Fernandez, J Imhoff; N Sanchez, M Landajo; M Ayerza, E Guinazu, M Bustos; M Carizza, J F Cabello, J M Fernandez Lobbe (c), J M Leguizamón, L Senatore.
Replacements: A Creevy, N Lobo, F G Kodela, T Vallejos Cinalli, T Leonardi, N Vergallo, G Tiesi, M Montero.
13:46 – Our commiserations go out to those of you who are stuck away from the screen today – particularly you, John Mack. Tough break getting asked to a wedding. Not very sympathetic with the Test match schedule, are they?
But on the bright side, we’re here for you, guys.
Last I checked Ireland were five point favourites down the bookies. That sounds fairly optimistic to me, but Argentina have never won in this fair city. So I’ll ignore all logic and plump for 19-17 home win.
What do ye reckon?
13:48 – Here come the Pumas onto the field. So, why do we dislike these guys again? Here’s a refresher…
13:53 – After Ireland arrive out to a half full stadium, fireworks and our adopted national anthem -shipping off to Boston – blares over the tannoy. The lads are ready to meet Michael D.
Now, I’m off to stand for three anthems.
14:00 – Right, that’s the formalities over. We’re ready to go, but there’s still plenty of green patches of empty seats around the ground.
14:03 – KICK OFF:
An awful start as Jon Sexton boots the ball out on hte full and we;re back for a scrum on halfway. Senatore comfortably picks and feeds Landajo. Pumas move wide through barely two phases and the have a penalty on the left wing. Peter O’Mahony off his feet.
14:05 – O’Mahony goes some way to atone as he is the first to react as Snachez’ first kick pings back off the post.
Ireland clear and Donnacha Ryan steals the line-out. That’s better.
14:06 – Ireland move the ball right, but after it breaks down we come back to the left side of the halfway mark with touch judge Romain Poite spotting something illegal by Leguizamon.
14:07 – Ireland look to have lost the line-out, but it’s scrum green as the visitors lift early.
14:09 – Promising play from Ireland after that set-piece. Tommy Bowe was the first to make a line break and he offloaded beautifully to Richardt Strauss.
Ireland move the ball right with Sexton getting some nice early touches, but his pop pass to Zebo is knocked on on the 22 line.
14:11 – 10 minutes gone and another penalty against Leguizamon. This time for a high tackle on poor wee Craig Gilroy. It’s just inside Ireland’s half so, J Sex has drilled us down to the 22.
14:12 – TRY: Ireland 7 – 0 Argentina (Gilroy ‘ 11)
The boy’s a genius, as a commentator once said of another winger. The Ulster man finds a gap inside the 22 a delivers a beautiful step to earn himself a 10 metre sprint to the line.
He scored twice on his Ulster debut and now he has four tries for Declan Kidney’s side in a week. That’s our first try since Christchurch.
14:17 – Penalty: Ireland 7 – 3 Argentina (Sanchez ’12)
The Pumas are allowed back straight from the kick off.
14:17 – TRY: Ireland 14 – 3 Argentina (Sexton ’16)
After a shocking first touch of the game, Sexton has been nothing short of brilliant since. Gilroy is again at the heart of this move, spinning out of contact inside the Puma half and feeding Strauss who in turn passed to Sexton.
The number 10 still had plenty to do, but he stepped, changed pace and showed his strength to burst a tackle and reach across the line.
He converted from 20 metres left of the posts.
14:23 – Penalty Ireland 14 – 6 Argentina (Sanchez ’19)
Another breakdown error almost straight from the kick off allows the visitors keep pace.
14:24 – This is excellent stuff from Ireland, and they could be in again!
14:25 – The house of pain is in effect!
TRY: Ireland 19 – 6 Argentina (Strauss ’22)
A grubber on the right wing was almost reached by Keith Earls, buy Hernandez just intercepted and stepped out. After thaking the line-out down, Strauss drove at the blind-side where only scrum-half Landajo was providing cover.
It was a tight call, but the TMO says he got it down so that’s good enough for me.
From the right sideline, Sexton’s kick drifts across the goal.
14:32 – In my ear, Donal Lenihan is on RTE Radio unable to keep the names Hickey and Geoghegan from his lips as Gilroy attacks from deep, spinning out of tackles and into space.
He’s a joy to watch at provincial level, but he has found his stage here.
14:35 – All of a sudden Argentina look dangerous. Landajo breaks through the middle and looks destined for a run under the posts until a brilliant diving tackle from Ryan.
From five metres, they move left and looked odds on to score until Keith Earls stepped into the line. He couldn’t keep hold of the ball, but he did enough to deflect it an stunt the move.
After another phase we come back for a straightforward penalty for offside.
Penalty: Ireland 19 – 9 Argentina (Sanchez ;31)
14:36 – TRY: Ireland 24 – 9 Argentina (Zebo 32)
So, can we have a bonus point now?
This is absolutely magnificent stuff. Tommy Bowe claimed a Garryowen inside the 10 metre line and soon had his fellow members of the back three in support down the left.
After Zebo and Gilroy’s first combination failed. Ireland regrouped, remained calm and tried it again. The ball was worked back to Zebo who had inches to work with from eight metres, but managed to spring and dive into the corner.
I don’t want to tempt fate. But we’re definitely going to win the World Cup at this rate.
14:44 – After a couple of reset scrums, Argentina get a free-kick and quick tap with JMF Lobbe, but Ireland manage to turn over and clear.
HALF TIME: Ireland 24- 9 Argentina
15:00 – Okay, Jaco Peyper is ready to whistle for the second half. Hopefully Ireland can keep up their territorial dominance because I’ve an awful crick in me neck looking down to the left.
Hernandez kicks us off and the ball is taken in by Gilroy. Sexton’s clearance doesn’t get past the 10 metre line and Argentina come again, almost instantly winning a penalty as Tommy Bowe is pinged for not rolling away after a big hit on Hernandez.
Penalty: Ireland 24 – 12 Argentina (Sanchez ’43)
Not the start we wanted.
15:08 – TRY: Ireland 32 – 12 Argentina (Bowe ’47)
Ireland aren’t scoring tries until Tommy Bowe is in on the act. The Monaghan man didn’t look favourite to win the race to Sexton’s chip through to the end-zone, but he opened up his stride and streamed past two blue and white shirts to touch down.
15:13 – TRY: Ireland 39 – 12 Argentina (Sexton ’52)
It’s a rout, ladies and gentleman. And once again Gilroy and Sexton are at the heart of some rapier like running through the visiting defence.
As we moved left Sexton played the pass to Gilroy who keeps the defence guessing before Gordon D’Arcy returns the ball to Sexton. He shows his best step again to move past a tackler and into the left hand corner.
We’re pummeling them on that wing.
15:16 – 55 minutes gone and Santiago Phelan has began to release his replacements into the action. Hooker Augustin Creevy will be the first.
15:20 – For the first time, the visitors have some sustained pressure in our 22., but they botch an overlap – Hernandez of all people – coming back inside when he had two men running at one on the right.
They persist with some fairly one-dimensional back-play (not too unlike Ireland a fortnight ago) and eventually Ryan forces a turnover.
15:27 – It’s all got a bit scrappy here, folks. You can tell because the Mexican wave has just stopped and a min-brawl has broken out on half way after Bustos comically flung the ball into the side of Cian Healy’s face.
Yellow card: Bustos
After a quick talking to, Peyper awards the tight head a 10 minute rest.
15:34 – Deccie’s begun to roll the subs on now too. Micheal Bent is in at the coal face in place of Mike Ross and he barely makes contact before Ireland win a scrum penalty.
Ireland are up to the 22 line and here comes ROG and Redser.
15:37 – All the pace has gone out of the game now, but as Ireland line up Zebo and Bowe on a dummy run on the right, Sexton chips in behind the defence. The ball just bounds kindly for the defender, preventing Gilroy another score.
O’Gara, Reddan and Iain Henderson are now on.
15:39 – TRY: Ireland 46 -12 Argentina (Bowe ’73)
This must be getting a tad embarrassing for the visitors. O’Gara’s first act is a whipped pass right for Earls, he dinks a grubber through and it’s reached by a deft little touch off Simon Zebo’s boot allowing Bowe touch down.
15:44 – TRY: Ireland 46 – 19Argentina (Leonardi ’77)
The visitors get their first touch down after Zebo’s first error of the day – a knock-on on five metres. From the scrum the rumble through the phases and squeeze over.
15:46 – TRY: Ireland 46 – 24 Argentina (Lobbe ’80)
As the clock ticks over to full time, the Puma skipper rumbles over under the posts.
A disappointing end to the day, but there’s no taking way the opening hour of this performance.
15:49 – FULL TIME: Ireland 46 – 24 Argentina
Donncha Ryan is awarded the man-of-the-match, but he spends his on-field interview paying tribute to every other member of his pack.
That’s it from me, hope you enjoyed our live coverage. Stay tuned to TheScore.ie for reaction from the Aviva.
Safe home, now. Those roads look like they’ll ice up fast.