Ireland 20-43 Argentina: Pumas roar past under-strengthed Ireland
Argentina will now play against Australia or Scotland in the RWC semi-final next weekend
Pumas led 20-10 at half-time after tries from Matias Moroni and Juan Imhoff
Luke Fitzgerald scored before the break to keep the Irish in the game
Joaquin Tuculet and Imhoff touched down in the second-half to ensure the Pumas place in the final four
An unbelievable scoreline saw Argentina crush Ireland’s dream of progressing to the last four of a World Cup for the first time in their history.
The South Americans exploded out of the blocks with a try within three minutes of kick-off and went on to develop a 17-0 lead.
Matias Maroni got the ball rolling, and Santiago Cordero swiftly added a second. Clinical kicking from Nicolas Sanchez helped to build a healthy lead.
Ireland did not panic and twice reduced the gap to three. Not once were they able to establish a lead, however, and the South Americans exerted their dominance as the game wore on, and killed it in the final 10 minutes.
Heartbreak for Ireland once more, while Argentina now march on to the semi-finals against Australia .
A spectacular start from Argentina saw them run in an easy try after just three minutes of play, with centre Matias Maroni scoring his second of the competition.
Nicolas Sanchez nailed the conversion from a tight angle out wide to make it 7-0.
The Pumas pounced again six minutes later to make it 14-0. Quick hands followed by some ingenuity from a Santiago Cordero chip through allowed Juan Imhoff to race clear of his chasers and slam dunk the ball just before it went dead.
Sanchez once again added the extras by clipping his kick in off the post.
Ireland then suffered another injury blow on 13 minutes, with star wing Tommy Bowe and replaced by Luke Fitzgerald.
The Pumas stretched their lead to 17 through a Sanchez penalty. An attempted drop goal was way short of the mark, and Ireland received a lifeline on 17 minutes.
A reckless challenge from Argentine prop Ramiro Herrera was deemed punishable by a spell in the sin bin.
Ian Madigan nailed his first attempt at goal to get Ireland on the scoreboard on 20 minutes, but the 17 point lead was restored just two minutes later from another Sanchez penalty.
The Pumas number 10 then missed just his fourth kick of the tournament as it clipped off the edge of the upright.
That proved costly as the men in green launched a counter attack to score a try through substitute Fitzgerald and reduce the gap to 10.
Madigan had a glorious chance to cut the gap to seven, but once again the post was struck from a penalty to let the South Americans off the hook.
Argentina exploded out of the blocks once again at the restart and looked to inflict further pain on Ireland. The Six Nations Champions’ rearguard stood firm however and a brave effort allowed them to clear their lines.
It was Ireland that drew first blood in the second 40 to level up the try count at four apiece.
Fitzgerald created it, showing great strength to power through the tackle and offload to an onrushing Jordi Murphy to slide over for his first international try.
Madigan then added the extra two to reduce the arrears to three points at 20-17.
Sanchez provided some much needed relief from the Irish onslaught and pushed his side six points clear once more.
There was a very hairy moment for the Pumas on 52 minutes, as Herrera risked being sent off for a second bookable defence.
Referee Jerome Garces consulted with the TMO, and they agreed that although the prop lead with his head into the ruck, he had one arm attempting to bind and it was just a penalty.
Madigan stepped up once again to slot it through and place the game on a knife edge at 23-20.
The fly-half had the chance to level the game up on the hour mark, but his attempt drifted just wide.
Sanchez made no mistake in the battle of the number 10’s with another successful penalty, making him the top points scorer at this World Cup.
With just 12 minutes remaining, clubless Joaquin Tuculet rolled through the tackle to plant the ball over the line for Argentina’s third try of the afternoon. Sanchez added the extras to give his side a 13 point lead once more.
Juan Imhoff killed the game off with eight minutes to go, running clear through past tired Irish legs to score his second of the game. It drew him level with Julian Savea and Anthony Watson as joint leading try scorer in 2015.
Sanchez added insult to injury with yet another penalty to unbelievably put Ireland 23 points behind, and the result beyond any doubt.
What comes next for both
Ireland failed once again at the sixth attempt to win a World Cup quarter final and advance to the semi finals. Joe Schmidt’s men were hampered by injuries to several key players before the game, and it proved costly as they were unable to handle a relentless Argentinian side. With Paul O’Connell now retired, the Six Nations Champions may need to work through a period of transition to be able to compete in that tournament in 2016.
Once again Argentina proved that they are a rugby powerhouse to book their slot in the final four. A masterclass of attacking rugby was remnant of New Zealand the night before, and it now sets up the potential of an explosive showdown between the two, should they each win their semi final. The Pumas have never reached a World Cup final and have the chance to make history, and only Australia or Scotland now stand in their way.
Man of the match
Argentina: Nicolas Sanchez
The mercurial fly-half was immense throughout, keeping his cool by contributing 23 points from the boot to become the leading points scorer at World Cup 2015. Defensively he did not put a foot wrong either, completing 10 vital tackles in a gutsy Puma performance.
Ireland: 15. Rob Kearney, 14. Tommy Bowe (Luke Fitzgerald 13), 13. Keith Earls, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Dave Kearney, 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Conor Murray (Eoin Reddan 70), 8. Jamie Heaslip, 7. Chris Henry, 6. Jordi Murphy, 5. Iain Henderson (Donnacha Ryan 71), 4. Devin Toner, 3. Mike Ross (Nathan White 51), 2. Rory Best (Richardt Strauss 66), 1. Cian Healy (Jack McGrath 51)
- Rhys Ruddock, 22. Paddy Jackson, 23.
Argentina: 15. Joaquin Tuculet, 14. Santiago Cordero, 13. Matias Moroni (Jeronimo De La Fuente 68), 12. Juan Martin Hernandez, 11. Juan Imhoff, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Martin Landajo (Tomas Cubelli 52), 8. Leonardo Senatore (Facundo Isa 50) 7. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 4. Guido Petti (Matias Alemanno 58) , 3. Ramiro Herrera (Juan Pablo Orlandi 72), 2. Agustin Creevy (Julian Montoya 55), 1. Marcos Ayerza (Lucas Noguera 67)