Ireland ‘A’ ran out comfortable 31-0 winners in the historic first rugby international to be held at Tallaght Stadium on Friday – it was the Churchill Cup champions’ sixth successive win of a memorable 2009 campaign.
‘A’ INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Friday, November 27
IRELAND ‘A’ 31 ARGENTINA JAGUARES 0, Tallaght Stadium (Att: 4,016)
Scorers: Ireland ‘A’: Tries: Ryan Caldwell, Ian Dowling, John Fogarty, Johne Murphy 2; Cons: Ian Humphreys 3
Argentina Jaguares: –
Ireland ‘A’, with a slight wind behind them, engineered the first scoring chance of the night, but out-half Ian Humphreys was wide with a sixth minute penalty from the ten-metre line.
But Humphreys quickly got back in the groove in open play, kicking well for field position and helping to set up the game’s opening try.
On 12 minutes, a quick attacking burst from the home side exposed gaps in the Jaguares defence, and Donnacha Ryan and Humphreys linked before lock Ryan Caldwell touched down following some sustained pressure.
Humphreys’ conversion attempt was off target, and the Argentinian side enjoyed their first spell of possession in the Irish half until Ireland ‘A’ won a penalty which Humphreys cleared to touch.
Fergus McFadden looked the part in the opening quarter, making some surging runs through midfield, and the defensive duties took their toll on the Argentinians when Ireland ‘A’ spread the ball wide to pick up their second try on 28 minutes.
Winger Ian Dowling was the scorer, dotting down in the corner after good approach work involving McFadden and Humphreys, whose crossfield kick out to the winger was perfectly weighted. The Ulsterman added excellent conversion for 12-0.
The first half was a stop-start affair with Ireland ‘A’ never being able to move through the gears, thanks to some committed defending from the visitors and a lack of precision from Michael Bradley’s men.
Ireland ‘A’ spent much of the closing stages of the first half camped in the Argentinian 22. Replacement Ian Keatley, on for the injured Keith Matthews, slotted in at inside centre, and Humphreys booted a close range penalty to touch.
But time ran out on the Irish forwards and the half-time whistle sounded with the scoreline at 12-0.
Ireland ‘A’ made a swift start to the second half, getting right back on the offensive. Three minutes in, team captain Mick O’Driscoll secured lineout possession and hooker John Fogarty rolled in on the end of the maul. With the support of his team-mates, Fogarty wrestled his way over the try-line after a series of rucks – much to the despair of the Argentinian forwards.
Humphreys’ conversion took Ireland ‘A’ into a 19-0 lead, with the attendance confirmed at 4,016.
On 53 minutes, Ireland ‘A’ increased their advantage with their fourth try. The industrious Dowling was involved in the build-up, going on a looping run which saw him combine with his Munster colleague Felix Jones, and with the space created, left winger Johne Murphy was sent diving over the line for the score, which Humphreys converted from the touchline.
Dowling threatened again off scrum ball in midfield, breaking through a gap only to be called back for an earlier infringement.
With the pressure beginning to tell on the Jaguares, Murphy then slipped in for his second try in the space of five minutes. Ireland ‘A’ worked a quick lineout with Humphreys feeding Jones and the fleet-footed full-back made a great darting run before passing for Murphy to go over in the corner from five metres out.
With both coaches unloading their benches for the final quarter, the Jaguares went close to scoring at the other end. Lock Tomas Roan was held up inches from the line as the visitors attacked from a scrum.
But Ireland ‘A’ defended well, clearly determined to keep their line intact and a yellow card for Jaguares full-back Belisario Agulla, with ten minutes to go, really floored the visitors’ hopes of grabbing a consolation score.
Bradley’s charges finished the game in control and hunting for their sixth try on another satisfying night for Ireland’s second string. Try scorers Caldwell and Murphy put in impressive shifts, as did McFadden and Dowling.
Skipper O’Driscoll stood out in the pack along with his Munster colleague Niall Ronan, who was a key figure throughout.
IRELAND ‘A’: Felix Jones; Ian Dowling, Fergus McFadden, Keith Matthews, Johne Murphy; Ian Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Brett Wilkinson, John Fogarty, Mike Ross, Ryan Caldwell, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Niall Ronan, John Muldoon.
Replacements used: Ian Keatley for Matthews (36 mins), Andy Kyriacou for Fogarty, Ed O’Donoghue for Caldwell (both 63), Bryan Young for Wilkinson, Chris Henry for Muldoon (both 68), Frank Murphy for Boss, Denis Hurley for Dowling (both 70).
ARGENTINA JAGUARES: Belisario Agulla; Francisco Merello, Matías Viazzo, Miguel Avramovic, Tomás De Vedia; Santiago González Iglesias, Martín Landajo; Juan Gómez, Álvaro Tejeda, Gastón De Robertis, Tomás Roan, Mariano Galarza, Agustín Guzmán, Leonardo Senatore (capt), Benjamín Macome.
Replacements used: Francisco Albarracin for Landajo (55 mins), Matias Nahuel Chaparro Tetaz for Gomez, Rodrigo Bruno for Macome (both 62), Matias Cortese for Tejeda (64), Ignacio Pasman for Roan, Gabriel Ascarate for Viazzo, Nicolas Sanchez for Gonzalez Iglesias (all 73).
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)