Argentina humbled by seven-try Ireland
Argentina humbled by seven-try Ireland
An under-pressure Ireland turned on the style to score seven tries against Santiago Phelan’s men, in a comprehensive display that made one question how they had endured such a torrid 2012 to date.
Jonny Sexton, Craig Gilroy, Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe stood out for the hosts, and it took two tries in the last five minutes to make the scoreline look less embarrassing for Argentina.
Incredibly, observers had struggled to pick a winner in this game — pre kick-off, at least — with a question hanging over which side would be sharpest.
When Ireland hammered Fiji 53-0 in last weekend’s non-cap international in Limerick, it was done with just three players from the team that had lost to South Africa the week before.
Craig Gilroy, the trick Ulster winger, bagged a hat trick and he was the only one to force his way into the starting line-up against Argentina, and it proved to be an inspired call.
Argentina, meanwhile, were playing their 12th game of the season, a year in which they made their debut in the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship.
They beat Wales 26-12 two weeks ago, before going down 39-22 to France last Saturday, but had promised that they would not be tired when they landed in Dublin.
The first half suggested otherwise. Not only were their legs and lungs expended, their necks will have hurt trying to keep track of a rampant Irish backline.
Phelan started all bar three of the team that beat Wales a fortnight ago, with Maximiliano Bustos making his debut in the front row.
However, it was Ireland debutant Gilroy who is most likely to frame his cap from this clash.
The Ulster man took just 11 minutes to score, and when he did it was with a shimmying run that fans of Barcelona’s football superstar Lionel Messi would have appreciated.
Conor Murray fed Sexton from the back of a maul, the out-half drew Santiago Fernandez, and his inside pass found Gilroy, who had plenty yet to do.
Three stunning side-steps later and the 21-year-old touched down.
It was a sixth try in three appearances in green, although the first one to count officially.
Sexton added a second try five minutes later, after some great work from club mate Gordon D’Arcy, and in doing so the out-half passed 250 points for Ireland.
Having scored just two tries in their previous five tests, Ireland added a third on 21 minutes when Richardt Strauss got his first international try, forcing home after a maul from his own line-out.
Argentina put Ireland under fleeting pressure, and Martin Landajo’s break required late intervention from Donnacha Ryan and Zebo to stop a certain try.
As if irked by the attempt to score, Ireland upped a gear and after a monster catch from Bowe off a Garryowen, Ireland pummeled the Argentine defense, and eventually it was Zebo touched who touched down in the corner for his first try.
It took just six minutes for Ireland to prove they had learned from the second-half collapse against South Africa, when Bowe sprinted after a clever chip from Sexton, outpacing Landajo and Juan Imhoff to collect the ball and score.
The Irish were not interested in leaving anything to chance, and Sexton scored his second — and Ireland’s sixth — on 52 minutes, once more showing some great footwork to step inside the cover and stroll home.
Ireland emptied the bench, as Argentina labored on with 14 after Bustos was sent to the sin bin, and Bowe went over to register his 26th international try.
Leonardi and Lobbe crossed the Irish line as the minutes counted down, but this clash was over before the half-time whistle.
London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF
- Super Cup final in UK capital can boost Saudi football's image around the world, claims SAFF official
- SAFF defends number of foreign players allowed to play in Saudi Pro League claiming they help raise the standard.
LONDON: Saturday’s Super Cup final between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad in London will not just be a great experience for the players, but also a chance to showcase the best of Saudi Arabian football on an international stage ahead of what should be a season to remember.
That is according to Luai Al-Subaiey, the General Secretary of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF)ahead of the cup clash at Loftus Road, the home of Queen’s Park Rangers. The match is the traditional season curtain-raiser that features the champions and the winners of the King’s Cup. And with holding fixtures overseas a growing trend in modern football, Al-Subaiey told Arab News the decision to play the match in London was a no-brainer.
“Club teams from one country playing in another country is commonplace,” Al-Subaiey said.
“Teams from the English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese leagues played in the US this summer. The Spanish Super Cup was played in Morocco last week.
“We do it because it is good for our players to gather more international experience, to learn what it’s like to play in large overseas stadia, and of course, there is a large Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern population living and working in London, (roughly) 300,000 people there.”
Al-Subaiey and Co. are confident that a great game in London this Saturday will be a springboard to a great season to come, especially with leading clubs in the country active in the international transfer market.
With eight overseas players allowed in Saudi Arabian teams in the upcoming Saudi Pro League season, there have been concerns that opportunities for local talent could be reduced. Al-Subaiey, however, believes that importing quality players can only be a good thing.
“Foreign players in the Saudi League will help improve the quality of football,” he said.
“But it also needs to be managed and balanced with the need to nourish domestic talent and provide our homegrown players with a pathway to the top.”
International stars such as Omar Abdulrahman have a part to play in the development of the Saudi Pro League and its ambition to be one of the leading leagues in the world. The United Arab Emirates playmaker joined Al-Hilal earlier in August in a season-long loan deal worth a reported $15 million — the second highest in football history.
As well as Abdulrahman, Al-Hilal have signed Peruvian international Andre Carrillo, who scored at the World Cup this summer, as well as former Barcelona defender Alberto Botia. Al-Nassr have bought Nigerian international Ahmed Musa from Leicester City and Nordin Amrabat from Watford.
“Has Wayne Rooney added something to DC United and the MLS? Has Omar Abdulrahman added to Al-Hilal? Of course, additions like these improve the quality of football,” Al-Subaiey said. “For the fans, these players bring excitement, and for the clubs and their league, these players bring a higher profile and greater attention — but there is something deeper too.”
For the official, what the best players bring is attitude and the utmost professionalism.
“Central to high performance sport is the right mindset. People like Rooney and Abdulrahman bring a great work ethic and possess great skills — but they also possess a professional mindset. And the young players who will work with them will see this, experience this — and learn from this.”
If all goes according to plan Saudi Arabia will qualify for the 2022 World Cup and perhaps even
progress to the second round for the first time since 1994. In Russia the Green Falcons started off with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the hosts in the opening game in Moscow. The team tightened up before losing narrowly to Uruguay, and then going on to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final game.
“We were absolutely delighted to be at the World Cup,” Al-Subaiey said.
“As you can tell with teams like Italy, Holland and the USA not qualifying and teams like Germany and Argentina not progressing (far in the tournament), the standard of play in international football is very high.
“Our particular group was quite challenging, and our initial game against host Russia, one of the biggest surprises of the World Group, was a difficult first match. Our final game, our win against Egypt, was a World Cup high point for our team. It was a match our young players and our national program can build on.”