Ireland stun Pumas, secure Top 8 place - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ireland stun Pumas, secure Top 8 place

By Paul Anderson 23/11/2008 07:56:31 AM Comments (0)

Ireland secured their place in the second tier of the top eight seedings for next month's 2011 Rugby World Cup draw with a grinding victory against the Pumas on Saturday.

Argentina had a setback before the start of the game when they were forced to resort to third-string outside half Santiago Fernandez after Juan-Martin Ferndandez withdrew.

The Pumas had already lost Felipe Contepomi from that position earlier in the week.

Not that it stopped them from putting up high balls as their main avenue of attack in a game in which the kick was king for both teams.

Ireland winger Tommy Bowe was one of many who missed catches completely but at least had the satisfaction of scoring the only try.

"There was something going on today it was just swirling all over the place. It was difficult for both teams we both had a couple of drops," the Ospreys back said after the Croke Park clash.

Ireland head coach Declan Kidney was not going to let the absence of the Puma's preferred outside halves take away from the successful job of work his team performed.

He was realistic about the outcome of an autumn series which saw Ireland beat Canada easily and show little of their ability in last week's defeat to the All Blacks.

There wasn't much more of it on show here either but his team's composure and determination was sufficient reason for quiet satisfaction heading into the Six nations campaign.

"I think it was the type of game that Argentina allows you to play. We know it wasn't an exiting game - we have more strings to our bow. But we had to try and get a result out of today's game," said Kidney.

"Confidence hasn't been overly high so hopefully today will go a bit of the way towards that.

"We did what we had to do by keeping the pressure on them but it was a real cup final, chess-type match which isn't the most attractive," said Kidney.

"You have to keep turning them. It took us 76 minutes to break them down for a try but you have to relate that to the fact that that's first try scored against them in three matches so they are a difficult side to break down."

Ronan O'Gara, who made a rally call to his team after this week's thrilling Munster performance against the All Blacks, was pleased with result in a game in which the Irish pack shaded it over the more vaunted opponent.

"It was a reality check. I think what we saw on Tuesday (provincial side Munster v All Blacks) was inspiring and it just shows when the attitude is right what you can do," he said.

The turgid fare served up was of little concern to O'Gara, who felt the result could mark the beginning of a recovery in Irish fortunes after such a poor World Cup.

"We needed to win. It was far from perfect but we've beaten a dogged Argentinian team and we needed to make a statement and hopefully today is turning point."

Ireland had success on the Puma's lineout throughout and late penalties chances accrued from it. Their scrum was also impressive.

The most exciting move of the match came when Bowe broke across his 22 to find a gap that would bring him to within 15 metres of the opponents line. The Pumas were stretched but the support was poor and the ball ultimately spilled.

Both teams displayed solid defence but Santiago Fernandez, on his debut, only took one of his penalty chances. O'Gara, who also struggled into a swirling wind was offered more opportunity as the game progressed and Puma discipline broke down.

Ireland's need for the win was ultimately more pressing than Argentina's and their nerves showed early in the second half, presenting the Pumas with their best chance of the game.

O'Gara landed a drop goal from 40 metres to put Ireland 9-3 up with 12 minutes left.

Another powerful run by Bowe gave O'Gara an easy chance which he duly converted to put Ireland two scores ahead facing into the last 10 minutes.

Ireland sealed the deal in the closing minutes when O'Gara and Bowe combined again. The outside half deftly pitched a ball into a space in the right corner which bounced up well for Bowe who collected and scored as Argentinian cover was slow to arrive.

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