Job done by Ireland. That is now 10 wins in a row at home for Joe Schmidt's men.

But this was far from a vintage performance ahead of next Saturday's hugely-anticipated clash against the All Blacks. Ireland are going to have to play a lot better if they want to go where England could not.

There were some plus points from a green perspective. Dan Leavy, who came on for the hugely unfortunate Sean O'Brien - victim of a broken arm towards the end of the first half - was immense at openside. James Ryan tackled himself to a standstill and was deservedly named Man of the Match. Luke McGrath did well when he replaced Kieran Marmion at scrum-half.

But too many sloppy performances, including from star man Jonathan Sexton at 10, suggested that Ireland, despite their protestations, were not 100 per cent focused on the challenge in front of them.


Their lineout creaked, their defence frequently cracked. Argentina came to play rugby and were unfortunate to go away empty-handed. New Zealand will not be so generous.

The game kicked off shortly after the match at Twickenham ended and Ireland must have been secretly pleased to see England lose. Not only does it ensure, barring a miracle in Italy later this month, they are the only Northern Hemisphere team who can now inflict defeat on the world champions this autumn.

But in a more practical sense the last thing Ireland needed heading into next Saturday was a wounded New Zealand gunning to restore lost pride. Schmidt's men experienced that in Dublin two years ago, after beating New Zealand for the first time in 111 years out in Chicago, and it was not pleasant. In fact it was one of the most brutal and violent Test matches in recent memory.

Now, having got this tricky test out of the way, the hype can really begin in earnest.

Schmidt had warned any of his players tempted to look beyond this game and towards that mouthwatering clash with New Zealand that they would be watching "from the stands" next weekend. But whether it was a lack of focus, or just an off day, Ireland struggled to achieve their usual clinical standards. They were sloppy from the word go.

Nicolas Sanchez scored the first points of the game from the tee, but when Marmion darted over from the base of the scrum, it felt as if Ireland would find their groove. They didn't.

Argentina were consistently managing to slice through the green defensive line, the Pumas' back three of Bautista Delguy, Emiliano Boffelli and Ramiro Moyano proving a real handful. Boffelli, in particular, was rock solid under the high ball.

It was a Delguy try which put Argentina 11-5 up after 17 minutes, rounding off a passage of play which began with a sensational break through the middle by centre Matias Orlando.


Ireland just couldn't find their rhythm. Bundee Aki hit back with a close-range effort following a decent spell of pressure from the hosts. But again Ireland lost the initiative. Sexton was making uncharacteristic errors with his kicking from hand; the back three - with Rob Kearney missing - were dropping far too many high balls; while the lineout was just a mess. Three were stolen in a 15-minute spell either side of the break.

Even more worryingly, O'Brien - only just returned from a year on the sidelines - went off with an arm injury. It was later confirmed that he had broken his right arm and would require surgery. Having missed out on Ireland's grand slam earlier this year, and Leinster's Champions Cup success, missing out on the chance to reacquaint himself with New Zealand, against whom he played particularly well for the Lions 18 months ago, is a cruel blow.