Argentina 43 – 20 Ireland
A fast start and a decisive finish got Argentina past a gritty but ultimately narrow Irish effort.
Two sweet tries in the first ten minutes – the first a delicate overlap down the right, the second an inch perfect kick and chase – felt ominous. But the Irish built themselves back into the game, and were only ten points adrift at half time.
But built rather than grabbed. This Irish team looked limited albeit always honest, the result of too many injuries and not enough depth. The scrum, at times, embarrassed the vaunted Argentinian eight, but the backline lacked any penetration. Too many passes a half metre behind, not enough stepping.
And in Juan Imhoff the Pumas have a rare talent on the wing, who can create and take the tiniest of chances. His second try at 73 minutes – from a gorgeous inside layoff by that old trooper Lobbe – killed off any possible hope of an Irish fight back.
And let’s not forget 23 points from the perfect boot of Sanchez: four conversions and five penalties from all over the park.
A game of great intensity, if not the precision and skill and width we saw at the Millennium Stadium the previous evening. Narrow channels and drop ons from both sides. And I’m not sure that the Argentinians showed enough to be a threat of going to the final.
I, for one, will miss the romance of the idea of Ireland. They have done so much in the last few years under Joe Schmidt to challenge the northern hemisphere rugby style. But such a style needs fathoms of depth, and the Irish luck deserted them as crucial injuries were the hole in their bucket.