What a difference a day makes in International rugby. On Saturday morning Ireland was a team under performing and under fire as they rolled out one stilted performance after another under the hapless Kidney.
A day later and they are back to being world beaters [(c) Irish Independent] thanks to an exhausted Argentina and a wonderfully inspiring performance form Ulster’s own Craig Gilroy. A performance of such magnitude that every touch from the Ulster youngster had the sanitised bowl that is the Aviva Stadium (it will never be Lansdowne Road to me) shimmering in excitement.
It was unfortunate for Argentina that this match corresponded with Gilroy’s first cap as I feel even this lack lustre pack of Pumas would have had the bite to see off the boring and predictable Ireland that featured against South Africa. Instead they came up against a youngster bristling with intent and determined to show case his talents on the world stage.
The ultimate showman in Irish rugby finally got the stage he deserved, and he did not disappoint with his infectious enthusiasm rubbing off on his team mates who moved the ball with more intent in this game than they have in a long, long, time. Thankfully, none of the posturing of Ashton et al, but a true showman in that every time he moves up a level he produces the goods with the minimum of fuss.
On the whole though, I was pretty disappointed with the game, Argentina were not at the races from the time they let Gilroy waltz past 3 defenders for his 10th minute try and, contrary to reports, Ireland weren’t the greatest either, giving away too many penalties but they did what they had to do and a fast ball can be very forgiving.
There were a few wrong decisions as Ireland got near the line but the Argentina defence was very magnanimous allowing Gilroy, Sexton and Strauss through with little protest.
Zebo finished off an overlap, after good work from Earls, for Ireland’s fourth and Ireland led 24 – 9 at the break.
Any thoughts of an Argentine fight back in the second half were quickly dashed as Bowe dotted down a Sexton chip within minutes of the re-start and Sexton crossed for his second try shortly after to put the game beyond doubt.
The crowd amused themselves with a few attempts at a Mexican wave and Argentina joined in waving Bowe through for his second try with less than 10 minutes to go.
Surprisingly Leonardi and Fernandez Lobbe went over for two late tries but by that point the punters were streaming out of the stadium.
Final Score: Ireland 46 Argentina 24.
Ireland: Simon Zebo (Munster), Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Keith Earls (Munster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster)*, Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Mike McCarthy (Connacht), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: Sean Cronin (Leinster), David Kilcoyne (Munster), Michael Bent (Leinster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster).