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18th Oct 2015

Five things we learnt from Ireland’s World Cup defeat by Argentina

Second best on the day


Ireland’s World Cup dream is over.

A breathless game saw Argentina burst out of the blocks to take a 17-0 lead with less than 20 minutes on the clock.

The Irish made their best attempt at a comeback, and would have drawn level at one stage had Ian Madigan’s penalty kick been on target, but ultimately the Pumas were too strong.

Ireland v Argentina - Quarter Final: Rugby World Cup 2015

Worrying times for European rugby

The way the quarter-finals shaped out, it was a straight shootout between the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere. It won’t be too surprising for the southern hemisphere to come out on top, but the manner in which they did so is sobering.

It is clear that the Six Nations is minor league stuff compared to the majors of the Rugby Championship. Ireland are back-to-back Six Nations champions but were totally manhandled by an Argentinian team who have yet to challenge for a Rugby Championship title.

But you can see the incredible improvements in the Pumas’ play since getting regular game time against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. If European teams wan’t to challenge in 2019, they need more games against big southern opponents.

Argentina real contenders

For all the focus will be on Ireland’s collapse, Argentina were hugely impressive. The Pumas managed to put up 43 points on an Ireland team that had only conceded 140 points and nine tries in their previous 14 competitive games.

Argentina were the top points scorers of the pool stages and they looked like a world-class team against Ireland in Cardiff.

The one thing that would worry Argentina is the fact that they allowed Ireland get back into the game. They can’t afford to switch off against a team like Australia or New Zealand.

Same old problems plague Ireland

Once again, Ireland have lost a World Cup quarter-final. They have won none of their six appearances in the last eight of the World Cup, and a familiar issue reared its head again.

After an emotional win over France, the comedown was too strong as Ireland failed to put together two big games back-to-back yet again. Their style of play serves them well in the Six Nations, but against more ambitious teams they will be exposed.

It is worth noting that the Six Nations champions were missing a third of the starting XV, including arguably their four best players. But this defeat has shown the gap between north and south even more than New Zealand’s demolition of France.

Question marks over refereeing decisions

Although the final score was 43-20, it was a far closer game than that for most of the match. Ireland fought back from 17-0 down to trail by a narrow 20-17, but their comeback was halted somewhat by the refereeing decisions of Jerome Garces.

With Ramiro Herrera already on a yellow card, he smashed into an Irish defender in a ruck. A penalty was given, but Garces declined to brandish a red card as he said Herrera had bound onto the player with one arm.

Later, Ireland won another penalty after Conor Murray was taken out before collecting the ball off the back of a ruck. Again, a penalty was given but no yellow card. If either – or both – had been given, we may be talking about a heroic Irish comeback.

Juan Imhoff steals the show

Before this World Cup, British fans would not have known too much about Argentinian winger Juan Imhoff. Well, you’ve heard of him now.

The Racing Metro winger has been on fire at this World Cup, scoring three tries in the pool stages. He touched down twice again today and has put himself in contention for player of the tournament.

The 27-year-old is peaking at the perfect time for the Pumas, as they look to improve on their third place finish in 2007.

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