IRELAND 28 ARGENTINA 19
Jacob Stockdale rubber-stamped his Test match quality with a two-try haul as Ireland beat Argentina 28-19 in Dublin.
Powerhouse Ulster wing Stockdale’s double and a CJ Stander score sealed a November series clean sweep for Joe Schmidt’s men, adding to victories over South Africa and Fiji.
The 21-year-old Stockdale now has four tries in four Tests, and is firmly en route to realising his rich potential.
The 6ft 3in wing’s tries here topped a performance as industrious as it was effective: in the Wallace High School alumnus, Ireland now boast a genuine Test star.
Joaquin Tuculet, Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Ramiro Moyano’s tries proved scant consolation for a frustrated Argentina, against whom Ireland claimed some vengeance for the Pumas’ 43-20 World Cup quarter-final victory in 2015.
Jacob Stockdale. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Agustin Creevy held back the tears before kick-off during a minute’s silence for the 44-strong crew of submarine ARA San Juan, lost at sea since November 17. The Pumas captain held aloft a shirt bearing the number 44 in tribute to the crew, for whom fears continue to grow amid extensive sea searches.
Creevy conceded a cheap penalty to gift Ireland the lead once the action got under way however, in from the side at a ruck, allowing Johnny Sexton to slot the opening penalty.
Sexton doubled Ireland’s lead from the tee when the hosts bulldozed the much-vaunted Pumas scrum, with Cian Healy receiving the back-slapping plaudits from team-mates.
Nicolas Sanchez fluffed a long-range penalty shot for the visitors, but then Ireland struck.
Chris Farrell’s lovely soft hands for Sexton on the loop shredded the Pumas line, and the fly-half ghosted on before sending Stockdale under the posts.
The conversion had Ireland 13-0 up on the 20-minute mark, and so the scores stayed until the break – in no little part down to Ireland rebuffing an 18-phase attack from Argentina.
Daniel Hourcade’s men missed a staggering 19 tackles in a patchy first half, and hardly fared any better after the turnaround.
CJ Stander supported by Devin Toner to score Ireland’s third try despite tackle of Nicolas Sanchez, left, and Jeronimo de la Fuente. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Stockdale provided the perfect second-half opening, cutting a tight line off Sexton before rounding the cover to score in the corner.
Finally Argentina rallied, with Sanchez’s cute dinked grubber turning Ireland’s defence for Tuculet to score. Sanchez slotted the conversion to drag the visitors back, tentatively at least, into the contest, albeit despite Ireland’s 20-7 advantage.
An injury to Farrell forced Ireland into a backline rejig on the hour, with Adam Byrne perhaps a surprise to tuck in at centre as opposed to Stockdale.
Ireland hit back hard and fast, Stander converting a driven penalty lineout for the hosts’ third try.
The Pumas lost their temper at the try, with Tadhg Furlong standing firm in the midst of a scuffle.
Sexton struck the right-hand post with his conversion attempt, leaving Ireland 25-7 to the good.
Veteran flanker Leguizamon rolled back the years with a winger’s finish for Argentina’s second try, before Sexton slotted his third penalty of the night.
Moyano nabbed a third score for the Pumas after a stunning field-length break initiated by Sebastian Cancelliere, but the game had already gone.
Earlier: Simon Lewis gives us the rundown of the match from the Aviva Stadium
Key moment: Jacob Stockdale’s first try on 20 minutes put Ireland on the road to victory against their old foes and it was the score of the game as Johnny Sexton collected an excellent pass out the back from Chris Farrell and then put the Ulster rookie in for the points from the 22.
Talking point: Ireland completed an autumn clean sweep on home turf with this win to end a successful Guinness Series in which head coach Joe Schmidt has learned much about his developing squad two years out from the 2019 World Cup. Shame this final win was played out amidst a poor atmosphere and in the bitter cold, rounded out by a converted Pumas try as the final act.
Key man: Jacob Stockdale’s star continues to rise and after a try-scoring home debut a fortnight ago against South Africa, he added two tries against the Pumas to earn the man of the match award.
Ref watch: Mathieu Reynal of France had controversially sent off CJ Stander in Cape Town when Ireland beat South Africa but there were no such flashpoints here, only the annoyingly long time he took discussing whether Argentina’s second try was legitimate.
Penalties conceded: Ireland 6 Argentina 6 + 1 free kick
Injuries: There will be some concerned coaches in the provinces as this final Guinness Series Test as Leinster’s James Ryan and Munster duo Chris Farrell and Peter O’Mahony all went off with apparent injuries.
Next up:With their Guinness Series at an end for 2017, head coach Joe Schmidt waves goodbye to his players after a four-week camp that has brought wins against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina. We’re halfway there to the next World Cup but the 2018 Six Nations is just around the corner. France versus Ireland in Paris kicks off 70 days from now on February 2.