Churchill Cup
Ireland 'A' finish with a flourish
June 21, 2008

Ireland A swept Argentina A aside 33-8 at Toyota Park in Chicago to claim the Plate title in this year's Churchill Cup.

Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton was the star of the show, collecting 18 points courtesy of a try, conversion, two penalties and a dropped goal.

Sexton opening the scoring after a only a couple of minutes, slotting a short-range penalty and they stretched their advantage when Denis Fogarty crashed over for the first try of the game shortly afterwards.

The Argentineans battled back into the match with some resolute defence but Sexton managed to edge his side further ahead with long range drop goal on the half hour mark.

Argentina gave away penalty for leaving their feet two minutes later - offer Sexton an easy shot at goal and a 14-0 lead heading to the break.

A sustained period of pressure coming from an Irish ruck finally saw the ball released down the line where outside centre Darren Cave was tackled but managed to touch down across the line for Ireland's second try of the game. Sexton converted to put the Irish into a healthy half time lead of 21-0.

Argentina had a chance at its first points of the game just a minute into the second half, but Ignacio Mieres was wide to the lft from forty metres.

A brawl broke out in the 44th minute that nearly resulted in an Irish send-off, but instead gave Mieres his second long shot at goal, which he converted into three points from over forty metres out to give Ireland an 18 point lead - 21-3.

Ireland than gave away another three points in the 49th minute for the Irish leaving their feet in the ruck situation. Mieres was off to the right, his second miss of the half.

A great break from inside centre Keith Earls in the 63 rd minute saw a great interplay as the Irish went forty metres, with Jonny Sexton scoring a try under the posts. The fly-half converted his own score and Ireland were on the front foot again at 28-3.

Argentina scored its first try of the afternoon with a well timed pass that saw Gabriel Ascarate across in the 69th minute. The conversion was missed and Ireland enjoyed a 20 point buffer at 28-8.

Ireland put a final stamp on the game with a well worked try from the mid-field, the spectacular inter-play resulting in Ian Keatly touching down in the corner. The conversion was missed but Ireland won convincingley 33-8.

A late brawl marred proceedings seeing Juan Pablo Lagarrique and Michael Ross sent off by USA referee Chris Henshall for the final minutes of the game.

Reflecting on the triumph Irish skipper Bob Casey commented, "We are delighted with the effort we put in. You could see in the first half what we were trying to do and we could have had three or four more tries.

"In patches during this tournament we have shown the talent that is coming through in Irish rugby."

Man of the Match Sexton added, "It was a good way to end the tournament. We worked hard during the week and it clicked today. That's three Plate wins in a row so we have to go up a step next year."

Argentina's captain Juan Ignacio Gauthier was disappointed with a fourth place finish, said, "It was very hard because we didn't have the ball in the first half and they scored a lot of points.

"We played better in the second half but they were just too far ahead.

"This competition was very important for us because we get to compete against professional players and although it was hard we learnt a lot."

Ireland A: (21) 33 Tries: Fogarty, Cave, Sexton, Keatly Con: Sexton (2) Pen: Sexton (2) Drop: Sexton

Argentina (0) 8 Try: Ascarate Pen: Mieres

Argentina A 15. Lucas Barrera Oro 14. Gonzalo Comacho 13. Juan Ignacio Gauthier (Capt) 12. Federico Amelong 11. Francisco Merello 10. Ignacio Mieres 9. Francisco Albarracin 8. Alejandro Abadie 7. Genaro Fessia 6. Augustin Creevy 5. Felipe Aranguren 4. Juan Pablo Lagarrique 3. Juan Pablo Orlandi 2. Rodrigo Maria 1. Daniel Rodriguez

Replacement: 16. Francisco Gomez Kodela for 1 at 78 mins 17. Felipe Bettolli for 3 at 72 mins 18. Leonardo Senatore 19. Federico Genoud for 6 at 54 mins 20. Lucio Lopez Fleming 21. Benjamin Urdapiletta for 20 at 74 mins 22 Gabriel Ascarate for 10 at 64 mins

Ireland 15. Denis Hurley 14. Mark McCrea 13. Darren Cave 12. Keith Earls 11. Brian Tuohy 10. Jonny Sexton 9. Frank Murphy 8. Roger Wilson 7. Johnny O'Connor 6. Neil Best 5. Bob Casey 4. Donnacha Ryan 3. Michael Ross 2. Denis Fogarty 1. Cian Healy

Replacements: 16. Tom Court 17. Sean Cronin for 2 at 72 mins 18. Trevor Hogan for 5 at 59 mins 19. David Pollock for 8 at 64 mins 20. Paul Marshall 21. Ian Keatley for 10 at 70 mins 22. Fergus McFadden for 14 at 78 mins

Referee: Chris Henshall

Touch Judges: Rob Debney (Eng), Fred Thomas (USA) TMO: Ed Morrison (Eng)

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