By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN (Reuters) -Ireland made it a clean sweep of November test victories on Sunday after they followed up last weekend’s memorable triumph over New Zealand with a more routine 53-7 thrashing of an indisciplined Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.
Seven tries from Ireland’s increasingly impressive group of forwards also made it a sweep of weekend wins for the northern hemisphere over their southern counterparts, setting up an exciting 2022 Six Nations in which Ireland should be genuine title contenders.
The defeat capped a disappointing year for Argentina, who conceded 53 unanswered points after taking an early lead and played most of the last half hour with 14 men after a yellow card for Pablo Matera and a red for Tomas Lavanini.
“We’re striving to be a great team, we’re certainly not there yet but we’ve put some great weeks together. I’ve loved every minute of it,” stand-in Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony said in a pitchside interview.
“You can see guys are smiling all the time. Not just after the games, smiling in the games which is mad because they’re savagely intense.”
After Ireland unleashed hell on the All Blacks from the word go last week, they were far slower out of the blocks this time out and the visitors took full advantage, creating a massive overlap for Mateo Carreras to sprint clear and touch down on five minutes.
That served as a wake-up call for the hosts who regained the initiative, first from a perfectly executed lineout maul finished off by flanker Josh Van der Flier and then a forward shunt that pushed all-action prop Andrew Porter over.
Argentina were left to rue two fluffed Emiliano Boffelli penalties and a knock on near the Irish line from Carreras when Caelan Doris, one of Ireland’s best performers this month, responded by bouncing off a double hit to make a huge carry over the line for a 24-7 halftime lead.
Mario Ledesma’s side, who ended a run of seven consecutive defeats with last weekend’s victory in Italy, attempted briefly to get back in the game in the second half but Matera’s yellow card on 50 minutes effectively ended the contest.
More Irish scores were inevitable and the superb Tadhg Furlong led another wave of Irish forward carries that led to Van der Flier going over for his second try.
Argentina’s discipline went from bad to worse when Lavanini picked up the third red card of his international career for a reckless hit on Cian Healy that prompted an angry response from O’Mahony.
The floodgates opened with replacement hooker Dan Sheehan, a prolific try scorer in his young Leinster career, getting his first for Ireland in just his second appearance and Healy marking his 112th cap with Ireland’s sixth try.
Tadhg Beirne rounded off the scoring to make it eight wins in a row for an Irish side growing in confidence.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, Editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar)