Ugly Win Still a Win

Ireland 17 Argentina 3

Ireland secured their place as eighth seeds for next week's World Cup draw on the back of this Croke Park revenge win over Argentina - but captain Brian O'Driscoll was the first to admit it was an ugly victory. A late Tommy Bowe try put the gloss on the scoreline, but this was a day when brawn mattered more than brain in an ill-tempered and technical affair that offered little in terms of imagination. Ronan O'Gara kicked all Ireland's remaining points from three penalties and a drop goal on a day when his Jekyll and Hyde performance summed up the fiercely contested occasion. O'Gara ran around like a headless chicken for much of the first half, and it was his indiscretion that led to the only Argentinean score of the day. That came via a 35th minute penalty from young out-half Santiago Fernandez, a late replacement for potential match winner Hernandez who was injured in the warm-up and sat the game out with Argentina's Leinster hero Felipe Contepomi. O'Gara did recover to kick Ireland into a 6-3 interval lead, and then produced the only visionary moment of the day with a brilliant cross-field kick to send Bow in for the only try on 77 minutes. It was never pretty, though, and it was never going to be against the Pumas, who had bitten at Ireland's heels for three victories in a row before Saturday, the World Cup defeat in Paris last year the hardest pill to take. That backdrop partially explains why the rivalry was savage bordering on illegal at times, but for once the Irish pack faced up to and overcame their Southern Hemisphere foes. "It was a brutal game but sometimes you have got to roll your sleeves up and get stuck into those sort of matches," claimed O'Driscoll. "You don't expect any different against Argentina. It was tit for tat out there and there weren't too many running options available to us which is a credit to Argentina. "We set ourselves up to have a good kicking game because the only way to play it was to play the ball in behind them. We had to play a percentage game which is not always beautiful to the eye, but who really cares if the end result is a 17-3 win over Argentina." O'Driscoll also tried to claim afterwards that Ireland's first victory in four games against the Argies was more important as a World Cup qualifier than a revenge mission. "We are getting carried away with this revenge talk and I don't want to go there," insisted the Leinster leader. "It is always physical against Argentina. I don't know if I have ever played against them and woken up the next morning without feeling the effects of a hard fought game. "So much has been at stake between us throughout the years be it during a World Cup, in the build-up to a World Cup or revenge for them or us after a World Cup. "There is always a huge amount riding on this game and this time it was World Cup rankings that mattered so you saw huge honesty in the 30 players and subs on the pitch today. "We did stand up to them. Some people said we were bullied by the All-Blacks last week and we weren't going to let that happen again." Ireland's win against the fourth rated team in the world was their first against a team ranked above them since the Australia game at Lansdowne Road two years ago this month. "I realized that at the start of the week and it did set off a little alarm bell so the win is important," added Dricco. "I did wonder why that was the case, but the pleasing thing about this week is that a lot was said and we saw the actions to back it up today. "People like Paul O'Connell and David Wallace really fronted up with their chat during the week and that's a sign of a player." New Ireland coach Declan Kidney was pleased with the win as his first autumn series concluded with victories against Canada and Argentina, interspersed by that defeat to New Zealand. "We set out to bring new players into the squad and to secure our top eight ranking and we have done that," said Kidney. "Today was a tough game to win. You have to be smart when you play against Argentina and it did take us a long time to settle down. "Some teams go out and play the ball in front of them as France did in the World Cup last year, and you can suffer badly as a result of that. "You have to stay patient and there was no huge spectacle out there. It was more like a game of chess. We did what we had to do and we stood up well. "We didn't want to be bullied and we have got a 17-3 win against a team we have lost to in the last three games. "You need a balanced approach to life. This was never going to be a rose garden and we do have to work through things which we will do before the next competition gets underway in February." When he sits down to analyze this match there will be many questions for Kidney to ponder, some of them probably unanswerable in a game devoid of flair. The glass half full brigade will point to the fact that Ireland finally stood up to Argentinean power at the fourth time of asking yesterday and in truth were well worth the win that is so vital in World Cup terms. On any other day a victory against the side ranked fourth in the world would be something to celebrate, especially as it came seven days after a bitterly disappointing defeat to New Zealand on the same turf. But those who sip from half empty pint glasses can highlight the fact that both Contepomi and Hernandez were missing from an Argentinean back-line that failed to spark. Ireland: G. Murphy; T. Bowe, B. O'Driscoll, L. Fitzgerald, R. Kearney; R. O'Gara, T. O'Leary; M. Horan, J. Flannery (R. Best 14), J. Hayes, D. O'Callaghan, P. O'Connell, S. Ferris, D. Wallace (D. Ryan 77), J. Heaslip. Replacements not used: T. Buckley, M. O'Kelly, E. Reddan, P. Wallace, K Earls. Argentina: H. Agulla; F. Leonelli (B. Stortoni 56), F. Martin Aramburu, M. Avramovic, R. Carballo; S. Fernandez, N. Vergallo (A. Figuerola 60); R. Roncero, M. Ledesma, J.P. Orlandi (M. Ayerza 48); R. Alvarez Kairelis (E. Lozada 56), P. Albacete; M. Durand, J-M Fernandez Lobbe, J-M Leguizamon. Replacements not used: A. Vernet Basualdo, A. Galindo, M. Camuzzo.

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