Ireland pass Pumas test
Sexton kicks 17 points to see off one-dimensional Argentina
Last Updated: 29/11/10 11:50am
On the attack: Ireland overcame a slow start to earn convincing win
Ireland closed their autumn programme with a hard-earned 29-9 victory over Argentina in Dublin.
Tries from Stephen Ferris and Gordon D'Arcy, coupled with 17 points from Jonathan Sexton's boot, were enough to prevail in a dour contest.
Once they fell behind, Argentina's conservative game-plan was badly exposed and, in the end, they had only a trio of Felipe Contepomi penalties to show for their efforts.
Freezing conditions greeted both teams, with the Aviva Stadium passing a morning pitch inspection despite heavy snowfall over the last 48 hours.
Argentina made a strong start, enjoying a stranglehold on territory and possession but failing to turn their dominance into points.
An inexperienced Ireland front-row of Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tony Buckley stood up well to a series of five-metre scrums, albeit helped by referee Mark Lawrence's interpretations.
And, having weathered the storm, it was the hosts who opened the scoring through a Sexton penalty on 14 minutes.
Better followed on their first sustained foray outside their own half as Ferris went in for the game's first try.
The blindside flanker, who passed a fitness test on his ankle to make the starting XV, was left with a simple finish out on the right after his back-row colleague Jamie Heaslip had burst through and drawn the final line of defence.
Sexton converted and added three further penalties before half-time to put Ireland 19-3 up at the break, the Pumas' only points having come via Contepomi's 31st-minute penalty.
The second half was a tight affair, clear-cut chances few and far between as both sides instead relied on the boot of their respective stand-offs.
Sexton added a further penalty to take his personal tally to 17 before making way for veteran Ronan O'Gara for the final 12 minutes.
Contepomi, who also missed three penalty chances, landed kicks of his own in the 58th and 68th minutes to reduce Argentina's deficit to 22-9.
But Ireland remained resolute in defence and never looked likely to surrender their lead.
Replacement Keith Earls was denied a late try when the video referee ruled he had knocked on but moments later centre D'Arcy did manage to seal the win in style, collecting his own chip over the top before touching down.
O'Gara's conversion gave Ireland a record winning margin over their South American foes.
Declan Kidney's men have put together a mixed autumn programme, featuring wins over Argentina and Samoa along with defeats to South Africa and New Zealand.