Ireland beat an inexperienced Argentina 29-17 on Saturday as the Six Nations champions began life without talisman Brian O’Driscoll by slowly easing to victory in the Argentine city of Resistencia.
Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton carried on his vein of try-scoring form, as Chris Henry and Andrew Trimble also crossed after a blistering Manuel Montero gave the hosts a brief lead to show what Argentina’s new generation has to offer.
After O’Driscoll finally called time on a storied career, Ulster’s Darren Cave got the first shot at filling the No. 13 jersey and stated his intentions with an early break, but the visitors had just two Sexton penalties to show for the bulk of play.
Argentina, who chose to reserve their elite overseas-based players ahead of the upcoming SANZAR Rugby Championship, looked more threatening in possession and cut Ireland’s defense into pieces on the half hour to pull in front.
Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez — one of a handful of experienced starters — broke through the center before finding the imposing Montero, who brushed Sexton aside with ease to finish superbly in the corner for his 12th try in 11 internationals.
Sanchez added the tricky conversion, but Ireland — playing with an extra man after Benjamin Macome was sent to the sin bin — replied immediately to retake the lead as Henry emerged with the ball after a furious drive over the try line.
Ireland had a second try two minutes after the break. Impressive debutant Robbie Diack robbed a lineout, back row partner Jordi Murphy streamrolled his way through the middle and Sexton created some space before blasting his way over.
It was the Racing Metro flyhalf’s fifth try in his past three internationals and, after weathering some more pressure from the home side, Sexton finally got an easy conversion after wing Trimble intercepted on the halfway line to run clear.
Ireland, who were also without several first-choice players and for whom lock Iain Henderson impressed, added a couple penalties through replacement Ian Madigan, before Tomas De la Vega got a late — and deserved — consolation try.
SCOTLAND 24, US 6
Vern Cotter began his reign as Scotland coach with a solid three-try win over the US in Houston, Texas, on Saturday.
Winger Tim Visser and fullback Stuart Hogg crossed for five pointers on either side of a penalty try for Scotland awarded over continued scrum infringements by the hosts close to their try line.
Scrumhalf Greg Laidlaw converted all three and added a penalty for the tourists, who were guilty of wasting several other chances to score in the Texan sunshine.
“Was very pleased to see the opportunities created and we will be working next on how we can get over the line and score more points,” New Zealander Cotter, who joined Scotland from French club Clermont Avergne, told reporters.
The Scottish side are to face Canada in Toronto on Saturday, with their North American opponents hoping to pick themselves up after a disappointing second-half collapse against Japan in their Pacific Nations Cup opener.
Canada led the Brave Blossoms 25-9 at the break in British Columbia, but the Asian Five Nations champions roared back with three second-half tries to win 34-25.
Japan are to face the US this week in California and can claim the Asia Pacific Conference with a record-extending ninth win in a row.