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Ireland 17-3 Argentina

Ireland (3) 17
Tries: Bowe Pens: O'Gara 3 Drop-goals: O'Gara

Argentina (3) 3
Pen: Fernandez

By Richard Petrie

Ireland secured their place among the second tier of seeds for the 2011 World Cup with a 17-3 win over Argentina.

Santiago Fernandez gave the Pumas a 3-0 lead with a 35th-minute penalty but Ronan O'Gara landed a penalty to ensure Ireland went into half-time all square.

O'Gara nudged his side ahead with another penalty and then landed a long drop-goal to make it 9-3 for the Irish.

O'Gara kicked a third penalty and then Tommy Bowe ran through for the only try of the game in the closing minutes.

Argentina suffered a major pre-match setback when fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez was forced to pull out of the side through injury, his place taken by Fernandez, who was winning his first full cap.

With Felipe Contepomi ruled out with a hand infection earlier in the week, the news came as a big blow to the Pumas.

Fernandez failed with an audacious early drop-goal attempt and tensions spilled over when players of both sides became involved in a fracas with seven minutes on the clock at Croke Park.

O'Driscoll delighted with

After referee Bryce Lawrence spoke to both captains, Ireland were awarded the resulting penalty but failed to capitalise on O'Gara's fine kick into touch inside the Argentine 22-metre line.

Soon after, Rory Best replaced the injured Jerry Flannery at hooker as both sides struggled to register the first points of the game.

Ireland were awarded a penalty on 21 minutes after Argentina were penalised for lifting legs to collapse a maul, but O'Gara was off-target with his kick at goal.

Running from deep inside his own half, Irish winger Bowe then broke through the Pumas' defence from broken play, passing to David Wallace, who then passed to Stephen Ferris, who knocked on and the chance was lost.

Fernandez squandered an opportunity to break the stalemate when he skewed his penalty attempt wide after Geordan Murphy was adjudged to have held onto the ball after being tackled.

Action from Croke Park
Donnacha O'Callaghan is tackled by Juan Manul Leguizamon

Argentina then stole an Ireland lineout, O'Gara was penalised for foul play off the ball and this time Fernandez slotted the penalty between the posts to give Argentina a 3-0 lead with five minutes of the first half remaining.

O'Gara made amends by drawing Ireland level with a 39th-minute penalty after the referee ruled that an Argentine player was offside at a ruck.

The Irish fly-half was in the thick of the action again immediately after the re-start, being penalised for holding on, but Fernandez was unable to convert the penalty in front of the posts.

Ireland nudged ahead after 49 minutes, O'Gara landing a penalty after an Argentine forward took out Paul O'Connell in the air at a lineout.

On 54 minutes, Tomas O'Leary's attempted clearance kick was charged down but Pumas flanker Martin Durand just failed to win the race to ground the ball.

Ireland then went on the attack and seriously threatened the visitors' line for the first time but when the move broke down the referee, who had played advantage, called play back for offside.

O'Gara had the opportunity to calm Irish nerves with his penalty effort but was unable to convert and then the fly-half's drop-goal attempt sailed left of the posts.

O'Gara did slot the ball between the sticks on 68 minutes, extending his side's lead to six points with an accurate long-range drop-goal.

Argentina were then penalised for holding on but O'Gara's penalty from 50 metres rebounded off the bar.

The Munster man made no mistake with another penalty attempt six minutes from time to give his side some breathing space.

Flanker David Wallace was then stretchered off and Donnacha Ryan came on as his replacement.

The home side secured victory on 76 minutes when Bowe collected O'Gara's kick over the top and ran over to score the only try of the game. O'Gara missed the conversion.

In the final minute, Argentina had Rodrigo Roncero sin-binned for verbally abusing a touch judge as the largely lacklustre match ended in ill-tempered fashion.

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.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (Nzl)

Attendance: 68,352

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see also
Argentina change five for Ireland
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Autumn Tests - as they happened
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Ireland 3-22 New Zealand
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Italy 14-22 Argentina
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International photos
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O'Driscoll eyes All Blacks scalp
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Ireland 55-0 Canada
08 Nov 08 |  Irish
France 12-6 Argentina
08 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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