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Here's how we rated Ireland's players as they dominated Argentina at the Aviva
Jacob Stockdale dotted down twice while Rob Kearney also stood out for the hosts.

Gavan Casey reports from the Aviva Stadium.

MUCH OF THE discourse surrounding Joe Schmidt’s selection was dominated by his handing an international debut to Adam Byrne, but it was both his fellow winger as well as the ‘old guard’ who especially stood out as Ireland saw off Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.

Here’s how we rated Ireland’s performances during their 28-19 victory which, in truth, somewhat flattered the South American tourists.

Rob Kearney: 9

An early break through midfield off an Aki expertly-delivered Aki pass was one of a few glimpses into what he can still bring to the table, even at 31. Charge-down on the half-hour mark might have been disastrous, but a wonderful take of a Sanchez cross-field kick on 46 minutes foiled an otherwise near-certain try for the visitors. Covered a Sanchez chip behind the Irish line seven minutes later. Saved a try in the dying embers. Best outing in some time.

Adam Byrne: 7

A more than solid maiden outing for the Leinsterman, who defended his right wing valiantly while adding the occasional incision infield. Moved to 13 when Conway replaced the injured Farrell, and was quieter there, but there wasn’t much wrong with Byrne’s debut. Hugely unlucky it wasn’t capped with a try as a first-half Conor Murray kick only just eluded him with a ludicrous bounce.

Chris Farrell: 8

His first touch was a clever half-break on his own 22 to put his side on the march having collected an Aki pass that was slightly behind him. His second put Adam Byrne away down the right-hand flank on five minutes with an excellent pass off his weaker side. His third was a botched version of the first, which put Ireland under pressure, though Aki was partially to blame. His fourth was a sublime, tackler-drawing popped pass to Sexton which would result in Ireland’s opening try. Quieter afterwards before hobbling off on the hour-mark, but had already made quite the impact.

Bundee Aki: 7

Distribution was erratic, particularly in its timing, though still showed flashes of brilliance with ball in hand. That said, he was well marshalled. The Argentines had conspicuously done their homework on his contribution versus South Africa, often deploying a defensive shooter to abandon his line in an attempt to snuff out any of Aki’s potentially expansive passes. Led the team in tackles with 15.

Jacob Stockdale: 9

Took his third try in four Tests with consummate ease to erase a shaky, half-blocked clearance during the game’s infancy. His fourth in four was a stunning solo effort, as the big Ulsterman dipped his shoulder through a gap in the Pumas’ defence and crashed over the corner. The man is a weapon.

Jacob Stockdale scores a try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Jacob Stockdale crosses for Ireland Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Johnny Sexton: 9

Ripped the ball from an Argentine in a double-hit with his half-back partner to force a knock-on, setting the tone for what was to follow. Again imperious throughout, putting a try on a plate for Stockdale and sending him on his way for a second. His only real blip was an inventive inside pass correctly adjudged to have travelled forward on the stroke of half-time. Put in a couple of massive hits for good measure, and was near-flawless with the boot.

Conor Murray: 8

Unfortunate that a moment of ingenuity – a chip behind Emiliano Bofelli on the Pumas’ left wing – didn’t result in a try for debutante Byrne. A vintage effort as he and Sexton once more put their hands up as the finest 9-10 combo in the game today.

Cian Healy: 8

Ruined Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro in the game’s first scrum – Argentina’s put-in – gifting Sexton and Ireland another three points from in front of the posts. Tackled ferociously throughout before being withdrawn for Dave Kilcoyne.

Rory Best (C): 7

A performance tad blighted by a couple of gnawing errors, but otherwise the type of display we’ve grown to expect from the Irish captain, which is to say that he was almost everywhere. Part of a formidable front-row masterclass in the scrum, too.

Tadhg Furlong: 8

Rarely, if ever, have we seen a player who enjoys scrummaging to the same extent as the Wexford man. Monstrous there again, while his impact in broken play was more prevalent without the ball – he made 14 tackles in all. One hit in the lead-up to Argentina’s try was obscene but correctly deemed legal. Role in Stander’s try was key, as he drove two defenders into oblivion.

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James Ryan: 7

Led his side with eight tackles in the first half before being withdrawn early in the second. Hardly a dominant outing, but his defensive efforts were valuable for the 49 minutes he remained on the field.

Iain Henderson: 6

Uncharacteristically quiet on either side of the ball. Made a relatively modest nine tackles and gained just seven metres.

Peter O’Mahony: 7

A turnover won deep in Irish territory on 50 minutes should have eased relentless Argentinian pressure on the hosts. Big hit off the back of a defensive scrum stifled Argentina once more, though again only briefly as they crossed for a second time just moments later. The Munster captain was overshadowed by the heroics of his back row partners on this occasion, but still put in a massive effort, largely in defence.

Sean O’Brien: 8

A silly 15th-minute penalty aside, this was a stellar performance. Made a huge turnover past midfield about two minutes before half-time, during which he screamed ‘IRELAND BALL’ as he became buried beneath the ruck. He wouldn’t leave Argentina alone on the ground, and had made 14 tackles – a team high – when he was hooked for Rhys Ruddock just after Ireland’s third try.

CJ Stander: 9

One wonders what kind of player CJ Stander might have become if he was big enough to play international rugby. Monumental display capped by a well-deserved score of his own. Led the team in carries by a considerable distance with 20, while also making 14 tackles. Extremely vocal, most noticeably at scrum-time.

CJ Stander scores his sides third try despite Nicolas Sanchez and Jeronimo de la Fuente James Crombie / INPHO CJ Stander scores his side's third try. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO


James Tracy, Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan: 6

Ireland’s scrum was notably weakened by the time the front row had been switched completely, quite understandably. Tracy only got five minutes.

Devin Toner: 7

Had made four tackles within minutes of his introduction, and continued in a similar vein.

Rhys Ruddock: 6

Made two tackles but couldn’t quite impose himself during a brief cameo.

Luke McGrath, Ian Keatley: 6

Entered the fray too late to make a significant impact.

Andrew Conway: 7

Super aerial take near midfield was just the tonic after the visitors’ second score.

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AS IT HAPPENED: Ireland v Argentina

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