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.
Van Dijk backs Salah to shine in Kiev showpiece
- Virgil van Dijk: He (Mohamed Salah) is a nightmare for defenders, creating and scoring goals.”
- Van Dijk: “To be calm, that is sometimes a very good thing to have, but personally sometimes I have to learn, too.”
LIVERPOOL: As Mohamed Salah prepares for a career-defining period, Virgil van Dijk is confident his Liverpool teammate’s star will only shine brighter on football’s biggest stages.
The Liverpool frontman will face-off with Ballon d’Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid tonight in the Champions League final before heading off to a debut World Cup with Egypt.
And having witnessed an incredible season that has brought 44 goals — a record 32 in the Premier League — for the Egyptian star, Reds defender van Dijk says he has the all-round ability to strike fear into the reigning European champions and international sides.
“He is a nightmare for defenders, creating and scoring goals,” said the Dutchman of the 25-year-old Salah. “It’s complete for him.
“He’s like everyone in our squad, laidback, calm, no big personalities and egos. We work hard for each other and just want to be better.
“I think he can definitely be the best in Europe, but there are two other players who are pretty good at the moment as well (in Ronaldo and Lionel Messi). I hope for Mo it happens because he deserves it. He is that kind of player to light up a World Cup as well.”
While all eyes will be on Salah and Ronaldo as potential match-winners in Kiev, van Dijk, 26, will have a major role on the defensive front.
The game will offer the center-back the chance to prove he was worth the £75 million ($100 million) it cost to sign him from Southampton in January.
“Any player who arrived at this club, they want to play in these games, they want to be under this kind of pressure, they want to get trophies,” he said.
“I don’t think I have been bought to win the Champions League final. I have been bought to hopefully get the best out of myself and the best out of the team with the help of everyone else.
“To be calm, that is sometimes a very good thing to have, but personally sometimes I have to learn, too.
“Against Manchester City in the away game (of the quarter final) I was a little bit too calm in the beginning, for example. That is something I have to learn as well. To be in the final right now, it has been a crazy journey.”
Watching last season’s final between Real and Juventus, van Dijk realized just how much he wanted to be a part of the competition — and why Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were the club for him, despite interest from City.
“I never really go to big games to watch as a fan, but I was in Cardiff,” he recalled. “The sponsors (Sony) hooked us up with two fantastic seats and it was two hours from where I used to live, so we thought, ‘let’s go.’
“From the moment I got there a lot of people in hospitality were Liverpool fans and they were saying, ‘join, please join.’