More quarter-final heartbreak as Ireland fail to recover from an early Puma mauling

Joe Schmidt’s best-laid plans were torn asunder in 10 crazy opening minutes.

Ireland 20

Argentina 43

Sean Farrell reports from the Millennium Stadium

BRAVE COMEBACKS FROM impossible-looking positions aren’t supposed to end like this.

Ireland have crashed out of the Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage again and must wait another four years to attempt to break the glass ceiling keeping them out of the tournament’s final four.

Joe Schmidt’s men appeared as if they were in a haze during a nightmare opening 10 minutes where tries from Matias Moroni and Juan Imhoff put Ireland on the wrong end of a 17-point blitz inside 13 minutes.

The best laid plans of Joe Schmidt’s era in charge of this team were torn asunder, then painstakingly regathered and patched up as Ireland clawed their way back from 17 – 0 and 20 -3 to pull within three points early in the second half, only to slip away again.

Ian Madigan was, of course, was a late change to the starting line-up after Jonathan Sexton aggravated the groin strain sustained last week and that put a concerning tint on everything Ireland did.

Joaquin Tuculet out-jumped the stand-in 10 to claim a high hanging Garryowen. Argentina would send their big runners at Madigan again in the next set of phases and their consistent gainlines and soft hands made the sweeping move right for Moroni’s try look worryingly effortless.

It was a shellshock for Ireland and the hordes of supporters that flooded Cardiff for the third weekend in this tournament. The blow was compounded by a TMO decision to award Juan Imhoff a 10th minute try despite hints of a forward pass to Santiago Cordero who chipped in behind for Imhoff who reached the bouncing ball in the nick of time.

Matias Moroni celebrates scoring their first try Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Tommy Bowe was lost to a bad knee injury, the stretcher required again as Joe Schmidt’s best laid plans went in to the shredder. But it was Bowe’s replacement who got a grip on the slim lifelines that were coming Ireland’s way, Luke Fitzgerald scything through on a superb line to take Robbie Henshaw’s pass all the way to the line.

Back from the dead. At 20 – 10 we had a game on our hands again in Cardiff and Ireland’s scrum efforts brought the 70-odd thousand raucous Irish supporters to their feet, sensing with a 30th minute momentum shift in the pack.

Momentum though is a fickle mistress. It wasn’t so much a case of it swinging one way and the next. Merely that Ireland were now a part of this contest after sleepwalking in to the early double tap.

It remained 20 -10 until after half-time when Fitzgerald again played the role of Ireland’s protagonist, finding a gap central in the Puma 22 before getting a pass away to Jordi Murphy to crash down.

Just three points in it now, but Daniel Hourcade’s men were not wilting under pressure. While Madigan was off target with a penalty either side of half-time, Nicolas Sanchez was unerring and had his side in a controlling 20 – 26 lead before two late nails were hammered in to Ireland’s coffin by Moroni and Tuculet.

Complaints? Absolutely, aside from the TMO checking for offside rather than the apparent knock-on for the second score, there was the non-award of a second yellow card to Puma tighthead Ramiro Herrera. The prop was off the field when Henshaw engineered Ireland’s first try, and the TMO appeared to be recommending that he go off for good after leading with a shoulder in a second half ruck.

Ireland didn’t get the breaks, but they didn’t help themselves either. The defensive line speed throughout the game was a long way short of intense and the two early concessions are unforgivable for a team talking about making history all week.

History is written by the victors, and so it’s Argentina who have powered their way into the second semi-final in their own relatively short rugby annals. The Pumas, after running the world champions close on week one and tearing strips off tier two nations are worthy owners of that semi-final spot.

They can celebrate while Australia and Scotland battle it out for the right to join them there.


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Tries: L Fitzgerald, J Murphy

Conversions: I Madigan (2)

Penalties: I Madigan (2)


Tries: M Moroni  J Imhoff (2), J Tuculet

Conversions: N Sanchez (4)

Penalties: N Sanchez (4)

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe (Fitzgerald ’20),  Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Ian Madigan, Conor Murray: Cian Healy (McGrath ’50), Rory Best (Strauss ’67), Mike Ross (White ’52); Devin Toner, Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy, Chris Henry, Jamie Heaslip (c).

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Donnacha Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Paddy Jackson,

Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Santiago Cordero, Matías Moroni, Juan Martín Hernández, Juan Imhoff, Nicolás Sánchez, Martín Landajo: Marcos Ayerza (Noguera ’67), Augustin Creevy (c)( Montoya ’55), Ramiro Herrera; Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini; Pablo Mater, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Leonardo Senatore.

ReplacementsJulián Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Matías Alemanno, Facundo Isa, Tomás Cubelli, Jerónimo De La Fuente, Lucas González Amorosino

As it happened: Ireland v Argentina, Rugby World Cup quarter-final

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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