Dublin - Two
tries by Jacob Stockdale helped Ireland beat Argentina 28-19 in their
one-off Test at Lansdowne Road on Saturday to record their
seventh successive win.
The 21-year-old wing - who scored a try in the opening November Test
victory over South Africa - scored a try in each half to leave
Argentina still seeking a first win in Ireland in eight visits.
The Pumas, though, could look back on a stirring second-half
performance, having trailed 20-0 after 42 minutes, in which they scored
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt described his team's performance as "a mixed bag".
"You never mind it being mixed bag when you have a comfortable nine point gap at the end," he added.
Agustin Creevy, captaining the Pumas for the 40th time, was penalised
for going in on the side and Johnny Sexton, who had to fall out of the
line during the anthems and receive treatment, slotted over the penalty
to give Ireland the lead in the fourth minute.
Sexton added another penalty as the quarter hour approached and with the visitors unable to get out of their half.
Sexton had seemingly shaken off any fitness worries as he was at the
heart of the hosts' try, bursting through the Pumas line - after a
superb offload by Chris Farrell - and then passed to Stockdale who ran
in under the posts for his second try of the series having scored
against South Africa.
Sexton converted for 13-0.
Sexton and Stockdale combined again to devastating effect two minutes
into the second-half, the former's pass being seized on by the young
wing who broke through the centre of the Pumas line and outpaced the
defence to touch don in the corner.
Sexton converted brilliantly from the touchline for 20-0.
The Pumas though didn't drop their shoulders but came back strongly
and deservedly scored a try in the 55th minute Joaquin Tuculet running
on to Nicolas Sanchez's clever grubber kick - the creator then
converting to pass the 600 point mark in Test rugby.
Ireland, though, pulled themselves together and Sexton boldly kicked
to the corner off a penalty paying off as from the ensuing line out the
Irish pack drove to the line and Stander touched down sparking some
pushing and shoving with French referee Mathieu Raynal telling both sets
of players to grow up and behave.
Sexton's perfect day was slightly blemished when his conversion came back off the post.
The Pumas battled away and didn't look like a side that was looking
forward to a deserved holiday as veteran Juan Manuel Leguizamon, found
by Tuculet, went in in the corner for their second try with 10 minutes
remaining - Sanchez failed to convert.
Sexton ended any hopes of a late rally as he went for goal with a
penalty and slotted it over before trotting off with his day's work
The Pumas had the final laugh as another clever kick by Sanchez into
the Irish try area saw Ramiro Moyano touch down and the metronomic
Sanchez converted the extras.
The match was preceded by a minute's silence for the 44 crew members
from the Argentinian submarine San Juan which went missing 10 days ago.
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade said of the tribute: "For us it was a very important way of supporting the families.
"It's a really hard moment they are experiencing. The passion the players showed it was part of that emotion."