Quarter Final two saw me heading to Cardiff fairly early in the morning to watch Ireland play Argentina. This would be my 3rd Sunday in a row watching Los Pumas. I knew we’d be in for some running rugby, but believed that Ireland would subdue Argentina, even with their injury woes and the loss of Sean O’Brien after he threw a punch at Pape during the pool game with France (another one unaware of cameras it seems!)
My Category A seat saw me in the corner of Level 4 in the West Stand this time – a good view – but £250 worth of view?? I had the company of mother and son Elizabeth and James McGowan from Dublin. James goes to Blackrock College a strong rugby school frequented by a fair few of the Irish players.
As is my way I sang Ireland’s Call – I know there are mixed feelings in Ireland as a whole, but I love the sentiment behind the ‘anthem’ for the joint rugby union team. It intrigued me that a colleague of mine didn’t understand that the rugby union team represented Ireland as a whole! It’s a concept to be admired.
National Anthems out of the way it was almost a bit of an anti climax that we didn’t have a Haka of some variety! However I knew I was amongst some of the most vocal fans in this rugby world cup, so atmosphere wouldn’t be lacking!
The Irish contingent, both players and fans had an early shock when Juan Martin Hernandez returned a kick with his own lofty ball, to be caught by Joaquin Tuculet, the Argentinians forged on and Juan Fernandez Lobbe threw a sweet pass to Santiago Cordero who sent the ball to Matias Moroni who sailed over the line to score. The conversion was from the touchline but the immaculate Nicolas Sanchez added the extras. The Irish knew the Argentinians were in town!
Running, exciting rugby had been the trademark so far for Argentina – was that going to change? Based on the fact that Juan Imhoff raced in to score the 2nd try for Los Pumas on 10 minutes – no it wasn’t! Another difficult kick – another Sanchez 2 pointer, giving the men in blue (well and white) a 14 point lead.
Sanchez increased that lead with a penalty on 17 minutes, things weren’t looking good for Ireland. Ian Madigan, a last minute replacement for Jonny Sexton put Ireland on the scoreboard at last with a penalty on 20 minutes – cue much cheering from the Irish crowd – oh, and me!
However Sanchez stretched the lead back to 17 points with another impressive kick a mere 2 minutes later. I forgot to mention that Ireland had been playing against 14 men after Ramiro Herrera saw yellow for seemingly forgetting he needed to engage his arms!
Luke Fitzgerald who’d seen little action during this World Cup came on as a replacement for Tommy Bowe showed his skill and speed to score a relieving try, it was little odd to find myself jumping up as he scored! I’m not Irish at all, but ooh I wanted them to do well! Madigan added the extras – but the teams went on at half time with the score on Ireland 10 Argentina 20. A very big hill for the Irish to climb!
I often wonder which team has had a rocket where the sun doesn’t shine – this time it looked like Ireland had! They emerged looking determined and scored a great try through Jordi Murphy, Madigan’s conversion closed what had looked an insurmountable gap to a mere 3! Oh, and I most certainly leapt out of my seat for that try! and yelled at the top of my voice along with my Irish neighbours!
20 minutes of 100 mph rugby saw penalties exchanged – 1 for Madigan – 2 for Sanchez, keeping an achievable gap of a mere 6 points with the score on Ireland 20 Argentina 26 – the semi-final spot was anyones with 14 minutes remaining.
However the Argentinians went into their try scoring mode – scoring another 2 shout out loud exciting tries through Tuculet and the wonderful Imhoff – the immaculate Sanchez converted both and added a penalty for good measure! That scoreline looked very different by the time the whistle went finishing on Ireland 20 Argentina 43!
The tournament was over for Ireland and their wonderful fans, yet to a man they knew Argentina deserved their Semi-Final slot, disappointed no doubt, but I’m certain the Argentinian flair was appreciated! It really was a great game with a fantastic atmosphere. A quick mention for the incredible Argentinian fans – they were as always fantastic!
Personally I had a truly wonderful Quarter Finals weekend – a good job as it took me nearly 6 hours to drive home!
- Cost of Ticket £250.00