James Ryan, Bundee Aki, Peter O’Mahony and Dan Leavy were the standout performers at the Aviva.
Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium
JOE SCHMIDT’S IRELAND made it two wins from two in this autumnal programme with a 10th straight victory at the Aviva Stadium. It wasn’t a vintage performance from the hosts but tries from Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki and Luke McGrath got the job done against Argentina.
Our match report can be read here, while below we rate the Irish performances.
Jordan Larmour: 6
After last week’s dazzling display in Chicago, this challenge was a considerable step up for the 21-year-old at fullback, and his performance here was pockmarked by a number of uncertain moments.
Left himself exposed by landing on his back after contact in the opening exchanges, allowing Nicolas Sanchez open the scoring and the out-half didn’t need a second invitation to test Larmour’s aerial ability either.
One steepler into the night sky in the first half wasn’t dealt with by the Leinster back as he misjudged its flight and got nowhere near it. Dropped another straightforward take early in the second stanza, too, but saw more of the ball as the game wore on.
Keith Earls: 7
Not an overly busy night’s work for the Munster winger but looked lively whenever the ball came his way and, as usual, very solid in defence.
Will Addison: 7
Drafted in at the last minute after Robbie Henshaw pulled up in the warm-up with a tight hamstring, and following his debut off the bench against Italy at Soldier Field, produced an impressive display against the Pumas.
Was heavily involved early on, taking the ball into contact and showing good understanding with Bundee Aki in midfield despite the late call-up. Brilliantly tapped a Johnny Sexton restart back to Tadhg Furlong in the first half to regain possession for Ireland.
Bundee Aki: 8
After having three partners in the Ireland midfield during the Six Nations, Aki formed another new partnership here following Henshaw’s precautionary withdrawal.
Consistently abrasive in the carry, earning hard yards for his side, and capped an influential and brilliant game with a third international try.
Went down holding his ankle in the final 10 minutes but was able to jog off before putting the feet up for the dying embers. Ireland need him fit and firing for New Zealand.
Jacob Stockdale: 7
Like Larmour and Earls, was given little space to work with and that’s testament to Argentina’s work-rate in defence. On the one occasion he had grass to run into, Stockdale sloppily conceded possession as he flung the ball back to nobody in particular. Let’s hope Joe nobody runs that back for Joe.
Johnny Sexton: 6
A rare off game for the out-half. Dragged his conversion attempt from Kieran Marmion’s try, and it seemed to set the tone on a night a usually razor-like kicking game was off the mark.
Will be frustrated for carrying into contact in midfield when there were green shirts in space out wide and a try looked a real possibility. From the tee, landed a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time but then saw another come up just short on the other side of the break. Kicked five from seven.
Kieran Marmion: 7
The starting chance he had been waiting for and certainly in the continued absence of Conor Murray, the Connacht nine was typically energetic and tidy here. Showed quick and clever thinking to swoop on the loose ball and surge through the gap to get Ireland up and running for his fourth try in green.
Pulled up just short of the hour mark after picking up an ankle injury, and hobbled off to be replaced by Luke McGrath.
Cian Healy: 8
The Irish scrum enjoyed dominance at the set-piece, particularly in the opening 40 minutes, while Healy was typically dynamic in the loose before being replaced by Jack McGrath
Rory Best: 6
The captain was replaced after 57 minutes by Sean Cronin, a decision no doubt aided by the fact the Irish lineout was horribly inaccurate for large periods.
Tadhg Furlong: 8
Rarely has a bad game. Incredibly powerful and dynamic, as evidenced by his carry into the Argentina 22 in the opening exchanges and then the way he bounced off a monstrous double hit like it was nothing. Such a reliable performer for Schmidt.
Iain Henderson: 6
As far as auditions to face the All Blacks go, this was not the night Henderson would have wanted. The lineout, as above, malfunctioned in worrying fashion as Ireland consistently failed to retain possession. Devin Toner was the big winner here, and that was even before he entered proceedings for the last 20 minutes.
James Ryan: 9
Firmly established now as Schmidt’s first-choice option in an uber-competitive second row department, Ryan’s brilliance shows no sign of relenting. See how he single-handedly repelled Argentina’s lineout maul on this near side in the first period, before winning the turnover for his side.
13 tackles, none missed and 17 carries barely scratches the surface. Utterly immense, and deservedly named man of the match.
Peter O’Mahony: 8
Conceded an early penalty but from there had a huge impact, even grubbering through into space at one stage in the first half. Brilliantly stole a Pumas line-out in this near corner in the build-up to McGrath’s game-clinching try.
Sean O’Brien: 7
Cruel, cruel luck. O’Brien’s first international appearance in 12 months was cut short just before the break, with what appeared to be a broken forearm. The flanker was in serious discomfort as he trudged off after his right arm took the full force of Tomas Lavanini’s carry. Could be set for another spell on the sidelines.
CJ Stander: 8
Spoke during the week about how his body needed a rest after getting through plenty of minutes for Munster in the first two months of the season, and looked well recuperated here. Huge work-rate, making 11 tackles.
Dan Leavy: 9
Exceptional. A late arrival into camp during the week following his trip to South Africa with Leinster and sprung into action earlier-than-expected because of O’Brien’s injury. Not that it showed.
Although one of his first involvements was to concede a penalty on the ground, which Sanchez duly converted, he was superb thereafter, making instant amends with a trademark steal moments later. It was the first of many.
Jack McGrath: 7
Introduced not long into the second period to add muscle to Ireland’s tight five and ensured the hosts’ superiority at scrum time was maintained throughout the 80 minutes.
Luke McGrath: 7
Added real energy to the Irish attack upon his arrival and added a third Irish try to his collection after stepping and sniping over from close-range off the back of another powerful shove from the forwards. In contention to start next week.
Sean Cronin: 7
Asked to shore up the line-out, Cronin lent his power to the cause after replacing Best.
Devin Toner: 8
As he watched on, Toner’s stock rose considerably as Ireland’s line-out and restarts struggled. Sorted things out when he replaced Henderson and is surely now a shoe-in for next week.
Andrew Porter, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway
Not on long enough to rate.
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