Rugby World Cup: Pumas pounce on injury-hit Irish to reach semis
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | October 18, 2015
Ireland 20-40 Argentina
- Moroni and Imhoff converted tries give Pumas perfect start
- Sanchez kicking helps Argentina to 0-17 lead after 15 minutes
- Bowe stretchered off for Ireland, but replacement Fitzgerald crosses and sets up Murphy
- Madigan conversions bring Schmidt’s side back into it
- Tuculet try and Imhoff’s second send Pumas through
Pumas reach second semi in eight years
Argentina capitalised on Ireland’s injuries to ultimately brush aside the Six Nations champions 20-40 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and reach their second Rugby World Cup semi-final in three attempts.
Two tries in the opening 10 minutes from Matias Moroni and Juan Imhoff, who later crossed again, coupled with Nicolas Sanchez’s superb kicking opened up a commanding 0-17 lead over Joe Schmidt’s side.
Desperately lacking stricken captain Paul O’Connell’s leadership, the Irish lost experienced winger Tommy Bowe, who joins Peter O’Mahony and Jonny Sexton on the sidelines. Flanker Sean O’Brien also had to sit this match out through suspension.
Fitzgerald gives Ireland hope
Bowe’s replacement Luke Fitzgerald profited from a Pumas error, however, to sprint clear and cross, helping to halve the deficit while Ramiro Herrera was sin-binned.
The picture looked far less gloomy for Schmidt’s side at half-time at 10-20 behind. Fitzgerald then turned provider for Jordi Murphy to go over four minutes after the interval and Ian Madigan’s conversion reduced Irish arrears to just 17-20.
Argentina wingers Santiago Cordero, whose chipped kick played a huge part in the opening try, and Imhoff helped to get their side upfield, inviting indiscipline from Ireland. This allowed Sanchez to restore a six-point advantage.
Herrera escapes Pumas punishment
Having already been booked, forward Herrera was lucky to avoid further sanctions when appearing to lead with his shoulder in the ruck. Madigan’s penalty made things close again, but his subsequent miss which would’ve drawn Ireland level proved costly.
Devin Toner’s high tackle on Sanchez gifted the Pumas kicker with another opportunity to put penalty points on the board. Full back Joaquin Tuculet then grounded a third Argentina try, profiting from a two-on-one down their left.
With Irish spirit sapped, Imhoff sprinted clear when Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe offloaded to him. Sanchez converted for the fourth time to complement as many penalties, and the Pumas’ lead ended up being 20-40.
The curse of the quarter-finals hits Ireland again, but Argentina always looked good value in the betting to get through because of so many absentees for Schmidt’s side. Coral now make the Pumas 14/1 shots to go all the way and win the Rugby World Cup.
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