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Clinical Ireland will not take their eye off the ball against Argentina in pursuit of history

18 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Clinical Ireland will not take their eye off the ball against Argentina in pursuit of history

Even missing a host of key names, Joe Schmidt's Ireland side have a ruthless edge that will prove too much for old enemy Argentina on Sunday

Having been responsible on both occasions that Ireland failed to make the World Cup quarter-finals, Argentina have good reason to feel confident of stopping Joe Schmidt’s side from making the last four for the first time ever on Sunday.

They do, after all, have a more successful record than the Irish in last-eight encounters, after emerging victorious from their 2007 quarter-final against another Home Nation in Scotland on their way to finishing third.

Furthermore, they were the form team of the pool stages having added a classy finishing streak to their traditionally rugged build-up play on their way to racking up 179 points – more than any other side, including New Zealand against exactly the same opposition.

Their two wingers in Juan Imhoff and Santiago Cordero have looked particularly dangerous with three tries apiece, and are 4/1 and 7/2 respectively to get the Pumas off to a flyer by scoring the first on Sunday.

To top it off they have virtually a full complement to choose from with just centre Marcelo Bosch missing through suspension and a total of 10 players returning to the side after being rested in the final group game against Namibia.

The same certainly cannot be said of Ireland, whose long list of absentees is likely to severely inhibit their tried and tested game plan.

Despite originally being named in the starting line-up on Friday, fly-half Johnny Sexton has been forced to withdraw having not fully recovered from an adductor injury – meaning that Schmidt has lost his metronome who specialises in pinning teams back by kicking for field position.

The super-physical, high-intensity quick rucking game with which Ireland have had so much success and used to blow France away last weekend is also unlikely to prove as effective given the tolls of such tactics have accounted for captain Paul O’Connell and two thirds of their back row in the injured Peter O’Mahony and suspended Sean O’Brien.

Yet Ireland under Schmidt are a resilient bunch – proven by the fact that even after their star men had been forced from the field they still managed to comfortably outscore France 15-3 in the second half.

They have only conceded two tries this tournament and none against Tier 1 opponents having shut out both France and Italy in the pool stages.

With the explosive Iain Henderson and a rejuvenated Chris Henry coming into the pack, Ireland have not lost any grunt in their pack, and experienced campaigners such as Jamie Heaslip – who takes over the captaincy – and Cian Healy can be trusted to set the benchmark.

Ian Madigan meanwhile was superb at fly-half after replacing Sexton, attributing his composed performance to the help of a sports psychologist.

Given their country’s 28-year wait to make the last four, you might assume that a few of his teammates could also do with employing his services.

Yet under Joe Schmidt Ireland have been characterised by conservative consistency, unaffected by concepts as pithy as bogey teams or mental barriers.

Indeed, since their last World Cup meeting, Ireland have beaten Argentina in their last five meetings by an average margin of fifteen points.

That is the same amount that they ultimately defeated a French side that were supposed to push them close by, and they are 7/1 to win by 11-15 points again on Sunday.

Ireland may be battered and bruised, but they possess enough battling qualities to save face for European rugby by booking their place in the history books in true Northern Hemisphere style.

Ireland v Argentina match betting

READ: David Wallace: Incredible O’Connell can still inspire injury-hit Ireland to achieve history

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READ: Relive the 4 greatest moments in the history of the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

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