Head coach Declan Kidney said it was crucial for Ireland not to get involved in ‘a lot of the arm wrestles’ with Argentina during Saturday’s runaway GUINNESS Series win.
In a display full of swift, accurate passing and evasive running, Ireland stormed to a 46-24 win over Rugby Championship side Argentina.
The Aviva Stadium crackled with atmosphere as tries from debutant Craig Gilroy, Jonathan Sexton (2), Richardt Strauss, Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe (2) ensured Declan Kidney’s men finished the November internationals on a high.
Ireland ran in four tries in the opening 33 minutes to take a 24-9 half-time lead, recovering from a shaky start which saw Nicolas Sanchez hit the woodwork with his first penalty chance.
Speaking afterwards about the squad’s approach to the game, Kidney told RTÉ Sport: “We knew that if we got in the trenches with Argentina that they would have a field day with us. We knew we had to keep them moving around the park and that is what we did.
“We stayed away from a lot of the arm wrestles that have been apparent in previous Ireland-Argentina matches and the scores went our way today.
“It is small margins. We kicked off on the full, they got a penalty, hit the post and it came back into play. On another day you‘re three points down and all of a sudden that gives them contact.”
On an afternoon of many positives, Craig Gilroy’s electric display in his first Test outing for Ireland caught the eye of many.
His swashbuckling break for an 11th minute try – his first touchdown at senior level and a sixth in his last three appearances in green – led to him being mobbed by his new team-mates.
Kidney said the young newcomers to the squad, like Gilroy, Zebo and Iain Henderson, have added an extra spark to the set-up in recent weeks.
Referring to Gilroy’s try, he beamed: “Isn’t it a brilliant sporting moment? To score a try against them early on was brilliant but just to see the (players’) joy in it.
“That spontaneous reaction doesn’t always happen in sport. Then the coaches will come in and say you have 90 seconds to take a conversion.
“When we saw the tries and the jumping, the experienced fellas will say, ‘get back to the halfway line. I’m not running another 30 yards and then 50 back!’
“You know I talked about it (the youngsters’ enthusiasm) being infectious in the last couple of weeks, That’s what it’s like. I think it’s the first time I’ve picked a wannabe rapper (Simon Zebo)!
“They’ve been a pleasure to work with. We talked about having a go at it and that paid off. We picked off a few good tries and that confidence flowed through the team.”
Against the backdrop of a lengthy injury list, the Irish management have blooded a number of new players with front rowers Strauss, David Kilcoyne and Michael Bent among the players to launch their international careers in recent weeks.
Getting the right blend for the RBS 6 Nations, between the experienced campaigners and up-and-coming talents, will be next on Kidney’s agenda as the 2013 Championship draws closer.
“We’ll assemble again at Christmas. I’ll try and get whatever time we can together. It’s a new squad,” he explained.
“When you’re in school, you’re used to having different squads all the time, year on year, but to have so many (new players)…
“Somebody just counted out that of the 32 we had in training this week, we had 17 new guys compared to the World Cup. That’s a monumental turnover. If you look at the bench (today), we had three one-cappers.
“I think four of the pack together had 21 caps – two or three years ago, if you had 21 caps you were a novice.
“Now all of a sudden there’s 21 caps between four of them. I think that’s why there’ll be a lot of talk about Craig, but I suppose wingers are a bit like goal scorers in soccer aren’t they? They get all the glory!”
The result brought an end to Ireland’s run of five successive Test defeats, including those three June losses to New Zealand.
The Corkman was keen to praise the input of his fellow coaches for the unseen work which went into this biggest ever triumph over the Pumas.
“It was a lot of things coming together. It was a lot of good coaching work by what is a good coaching team. Les Kiss, Gert Small, Mark Tainton, Anthony Foley and Greg Feek have done an excellent job.
“It is amazing when things come together that all of a sudden you have totally different picture than some of the results we have had this year. We’ve been working towards that and today has just been one of the good days.”