Ireland out to sow the seeds of victory
If Healy has the energy, he, Richardt Strauss, McCarthy, O’Mahony et al are going to have to use footwork and pump harder, while the first and second man in are going to have to be more effective in their clear-outs. For Fernandez Lobbe and co are every bit as destructive at the breakdown as the Boks. A few potent mauls could generate space, but the pack is short on Munster maulers.
Nevertheless, you’d have to hope that they’ll have learned from the South Africa game and benefitted from three weeks together. “Argentina have a similar style,” admitted Les Kis yesterday. “If they can make their tackle with one only, maybe two, you’ve got a picket fence, do you challenge that line or find space somewhere else? It can be deep, it can be close, it can be contestable, it can be behind the ruck. I know the forwards are geared up for a real focus on how they can create a bit of havoc around those areas. If we can bunch their defence, hopefully we can release the backs a little bit more.”
Ireland will need big games from the dogs of war and supreme game management from the halves and especially Sexton. It assuredly helps the home players that 45,000 tickets have been sold and if given something to shout and sing about, as Kiss said, “it’ll be rocking”. Ireland might just have the edge in discipline too.
After tough itineraries against the world’s best, both sides are in acute need of a win, but after the Pumas sated their desire in Cardiff a fortnight ago, it could be that Ireland’s need is greater. It could also be that Ireland have more impact off the bench, and finish fresher and stronger. It could be.
Forecast: Ireland to win
How the rankings could pan out
The permutations with regard to the IRB world rankings, upon which the 2015 World Cup draw will be made in London on Monday week, are endless. Ireland currently stand seventh, and thus in the second tier of seeds from fifth to eighth, and will remain in that band if they win, but drop down to the third tier if they lose.
If Ireland win today, that would ensure a minimum ranking of eighth as they would overtake Argentina and could only be overtaken by Wales and Samoa if they beat New Zealand and France. Scotland cannot now make the top eight.
An Irish defeat would see them fall out of the top eight, as Wales and Samoa could not fall below Ireland even if they lose by more than 15 points. (Then, Scotland could also overtake Ireland if they beat Tonga by more than 15 points, as could Italy if they beat Australia.)
A draw at the Aviva would push Ireland below Wales and leave Ireland depending on France to beat Samoa to secure eighth place.
An Argentinian win means they would retain sixth place, and while a defeat would see them drop below Ireland it would require wins by both Wales and Samoa to edge them out of the top eight.
Next weekend England and Wales host New Zealand and Australia, and those matches will also count in the rankings.