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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 18:20 GMT
Ireland claw victory over Pumas
Ireland's Keith Gleeson charges through Puma defence
Ireland's Keith Gleeson charges through Puma defence
Ireland 16-7 Argentina

Ireland achieved their goal and a little bit of revenge with a hard-earned victory over Argentina at a sodden Lansdowne Road.

A clean sweep in the autumn Tests registered a sixth victory on the trot for the Irish, their best run since the Sixties.

It meant that Ireland defeated two of their rivals in next season's World Cup Pool A following an earlier victory over Australia two weeks ago.

But the game was not a pretty sight with conditions allowing very little constructive rugby.

Few players were able to enhance their reputation, but Ireland try-scoring full-back Girvan Dempsey did not put a foot wrong as the side's featured in aerial ping-pong.

  Match details:
Ireland 16 (10)
Tries: Dempsey
Pens: O'Gara (3)
Cons: O'Gara
Argentina 7 (7)
Tries: Martin
Cons: Contepomi

However, a win is a win, and that ghost of Lens three years ago in the World Cup was buried in the Lansdowne Road quagmire.

Both packs were like two runting stags in the early stages with some explosive head-to-head contact.

Argentina, though, had most of the territorial advantage in the opening quarter, but it was Ireland who stole ahead in the 21st minute.

A real old-fashioned Garryowen by O'Driscoll took time to come down and when it did full-back Ignacio Corleto spilled the ball and Dempsey following up swooped to score with O'Gara converting.

But the Pumas were back level three minutes later in rather controversial circumstances.

A little dink by Contepomi appeared to drop right through the covering Shane Horgan's hands, and both he and Dempsey allowed the ball to run-out thinking that it was an Irish line-out ball.

Malcolm O'Kelly and Leo Cullen dominate line-out against the PUmas
Malcolm O'Kelly and Leo Cullen dominate line-out
But the Pumas grabbed the ball took a quick throw-in and flanker Roland Martin trundled over to the bemusement Irish.

The try, however, stood when a replay showed that Horgan might have got more than a finger nail to the ball.

Contepomi eventually converted after discussions between referee Chris White and video referee Derek Bevan.

Ireland lost their big Ulster second row Gary Longwell with a shoulder injury in the 26th minute when Argentina hooker Mario Ledsema slid into him while he was lying prostrate on the ground.

Ireland nudged further ahead in the 34th minute when O'Gara floated over an angled penalty to end the scoring in a first half that was not blessed with any inventive rugby.

With both teams again matching each other immediately after the restart, there was no change in the game's format with the packs driving relentlessly at each other.

However, following some Irish pressure, although O'Gara managed to push Ireland further ahead with another penalty in the 54th minute.

O'Gara was on the mark again in the 66th minute when Contepomi piled over a ruck and some back-chat by the Pumas allowed the fly-half a more comfortable shot at goal.

That was that, but conditions will be a lot drier and warmer come next October in Adelaide when the two teams meet up again the World Cup.

Ireland: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Kevin Maggs, Justin Bishop; Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Reggie Corrigan, Shane Byrne, John Hayes, Malcolm O'Kelly, Gary Longwell, Victor Costello, Keith Gleeson, Anthony Foley.
Replacements: Frank Sheahan, Marcus Horan, Leo Cullen, Alan Quinlan, Guy Easterby, David Humphreys, Geordan Murphy.

Argentina: Ignacio Corleto; Ganzalo Camardon, Jose Orengo, Lisandro Arbizu (capt), Diego Albanese; Felipe Contepomi, Augustin Pichot; Mauricio Reggiardo, Mario Ledesma, Omar Hasan, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Rimas Alvarez, Rolando Martin, Santiago Phelan, Gonzalo Longo.
Replacements: JJ Villaz, M Scelzo, P Sporleder, M Durand, N Fernandez Miranda, J Fernandez Miranda, J Nunez Piossek

Referee: Chris White (England)

BBC Sport's Alistair Eykyn
"The weather meant it was always going to be scrappy"
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan
"Conditions were appalling for both sides"
 NOV 23-24 TESTS
 WALES 17-43 NZ

Ireland v Argentina

Ireland v Fiji

Ireland v Australia

Brian O'Driscoll


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