Sanchez leads Argentina to 43-20 win over Ireland

AFP, CARDIFF

Mon, Oct 19, 2015 - Page 20

Nicolas Sanchez yesterday steered Argentina into the World Cup semi-finals with a thrilling 43-20 victory over injury-depleted Ireland.

Ireland, missing talismanic lock and skipper Paul O’Connell, flyhalf Johnny Sexton, flanker Peter O’Mahony and center Jared Payne through injury and suspended star flanker Sean O’Brien, struggled to match Argentina’s opening high-tempo start.

The Pumas scorched out to a 17-0 lead thanks to tries from Matias Moroni and Juan Imhoff, with Sanchez kicking the rest of the points before Ireland came back through a Luke Fitzgerald try, Ian Madigan kicking the conversion and a penalty.

Jordi Murphy’s try early in the second-half and Madigan’s boot kept Ireland in the game until Joaquin Tuculet and Imhoff crossed in the final minutes of a scintillating game, masterminded by Sanchez, who finished with a personal tally of 23 points from five penalties and four conversions.

The victory broke Argentina’s five-match losing streak against Ireland, their last win coming in the pool stages of the 2007 World Cup.

Argentina played a sparkling opening 20 minutes with such free-running elan that Ireland looked completely off the pace.

Ireland started the second-half just as they needed to, Fitzgerald splitting the defense and offloading to Murphy for a try Madigan converted.

An Imhoff break saw Rory Best penalized for clinging on to Cordero, Sanchez booting his third penalty to extend his team’s lead to six points.

That did not last for long, as Ramiro Herrera infringed at a ruck, Madigan kicking his second penalty with the prop lucky not to get a second yellow — and automatic red card — from French referee Jerome Garces.

Tuculet and Imhoff sealed Ireland’s fate when they crashed over for two devastating tries in the last 12 minutes, Sanchez twice more converting and having the last laugh with a final penalty to deny Ireland a place in the semi-finals.