Replacement scrumhalf Luke McGrath scored a crucial 66th-minute try as Ireland beat Argentina 28-17 in Dublin on Saturday, writes DYLAN JACK.
The visitors were bright throughout the match, but once again let done by some ill-discipline and scrum issues, which the home side punished.
They did well to stay in the contest with flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez kicking four penalties to help make it a one-point game in the final quarter.
However, Luke McGrath used a dominant scrum to his advantage to score what proved to be the decisive try that saved Ireland from potentially slipping to their first defeat of the year.
After Sánchez’s first penalty gave Argentina the lead, Ireland quickly got back on the front foot and won a couple of penalties before scrumhalf Keiran Marmion burst over from a dominant 5m scrum.
Argentina regained the lead from another Sánchez penalty, before extending it when Bautista Delguy went over after an initial linebreak from Jeronimo de la Fuente.
The hosts hit back after some indiscipline gave them a 5m lineout and centre Bundee Aki made the most of a bit of space as he stepped past a couple of tackles to score.
A late penalty from Sánchez again allowed the visitors to retake the lead, but Sexton responded with an attempt from the halfway line which saw the hosts go 15-14 ahead at half-time.
Argentina started the second half in a similar manner to the first, with Sánchez kicking his fourth penalty to put them ahead.
Ireland had the better of territory and possession in the second half but struggled to make it count as the Argentinian defence made a number of excellent tackles to keep them out. Sexton did have another attempt from halfway, but this time the ball flew under the bar.
The World Player of the Year nominee made no mistake from a shorter range, giving the home side a slim one-point lead going into the final quarter.
Ireland took the ball through over 20 phases before winning a 5m scrum just in front of the posts. Like the man he replaced, Luke McGrath received a pass from CJ Stander and sprinted over from close out.
Sexton kicked a penalty in the final five minutes to all but seal the game for the hosts.
Ireland – Tries: Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki, Luke McGrath. Conversions: Jonathan Sexton (2). Penalties: Sexton (3)
Argentina –Try: Bautista Delguy. Penalties: Nicolás Sánchez (4).
Ireland – 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Andrew Conway.
Argentina – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Rodrigo Bruni, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Matias Moroni.
Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images