When he wasn't busting gain lines for carries, he was up near the top of our tackling charts or forcing turnovers at their mauls. He's getting very close to being undroppable, though in this contest both of his opposing locks were in similar form. Not far off MotM was Peter O’Mahony. For all the talk of Leinster's embarrassment of backrow riches, the Munster skipper gets on my Irish team sheet before any of them. He always knows when to produce the goods just when they're needed, like forcing a turnover or even putting in one of the better territory kicks on the night. But it was his perfectly timed lineout steal that helped us seal the win. Once more we had hit them hard with phases in their 22 and the resistance was holding so much that Larmour felt his only option was to grubber one into touch close to the line. Sidenote on Larmour…this outing was definitely a reality check for him after last week. I said then he deserved man of the match because he tended to his FB duties as well as the YouTube moments, but this time, we definitely saw a few wobbles. Hopefully Rob is OK for the All Blacks in which case Jordan should definitely be in line for jersey 23 at least. Anyway…for all the talk of our lineout woes, the Pumas just lost one on their own throw but it was the most important, and moments before the dart you can see O’Mahony reading it like he made the call himself. From there Leavy got it over the line but it was held up so once again we relied on our scrum to lead to a try, this time via Stander putting through Luke McGrath. A word on the scrum halves…both did well to get on the score sheet though I did feel there was an uptick in pace when Luke came on. When it comes to selection for next week, much depends on Murray's fitness but I think I'd nudge the Leinster 9 ahead in the pecking order for the time being. So our third try put us two scores ahead and perhaps I'm being greedy but when we won another penalty in the 75th minute, I was disappointed that we didn't go for a fourth as that would have brought us to the 15-point margin that earns maximum ranking points. Instead Sexton took the three and that was all the scoring for the day. Not the dominant display nor result we expected by a long shot…but like I say, there were mitigating factors in that Argentina played closer to their “World Cup v Ireland” form than their “normal November v Ireland” form, plus the very late personnel change. I can also see silver linings, not least of which is that the All Blacks won't be able to see much in our play over this 80 minutes that will prepare them for next Saturday. Was this by design as much as by circumstance? Perhaps.
We can certainly do with bringing the scrum form forward, though I'd have concerns over Tadhg Furlong after he seemed to be visibly shaken on more than one occasion after what looked like head knocks. But answers to questions like those will only arrive after kickoff next Saturday. After all the success Ireland have enjoyed in 2018 so far, having had the summer off and some time back at their provinces, there are bound to be a few cobwebs….hopefully this match has served to clear them all. JLP
Later this week we'll have a guest post from Keego plus our 80-word reviews on Tuesday, Harpin Points on Wednesday, Telly post on Thursday and our Ireland v Argentina preview on Friday. Plus of course every morning our Front5 quotes & links. Do stay tuned!
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