DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland completed a clean sweep of November test wins on Saturday with a mostly novice backline at international level coming through with a relatively comfortable 28-19 win over Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.
With one eye on the 2019 World Cup, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt used each member of his squad fit for selection over the course of wins against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina with second row James Ryan and wing Jacob Stockdale in particular laying down a marker for next year’s Six Nations.
“We’re blooding young players. It’s three wins from three, there are elements that we’ll improve on but it’s a nice stepping stone for us come February,” Ireland captain Rory Best said in a pitchside interview.
Stockdale was one of four backs with just five caps between them going into the game and he combined with another to score a superb opening try as centre Chris Farrell’s deft, disguised pass took two defenders out and allowed the experienced Johnny Sexton to put Stockdale away.
Ryan, the 21-year-old lock who has made a big impression in just a handful of games for Leinster, looked equally comfortable in a first start cut short by injury as Ireland dominated up front, just as they did in the 38-3 hammering of South Africa.
Sexton and Stockdale combined again just after halftime as the impressive Ulster winger ghosted through the Argentine defensive line but still had to finish well to notch his fourth try in four games for Ireland.
Argentina, playing the final game of their season, began to work their way back into the game as the hosts lost their spark, and breached the Irish defence on 55 minutes when Joaquin Tuculet touched down a pinpoint dink through from Nicolas Sanchez.
Ireland quickly snuffed out any real chance of a comeback as number 8 CJ Stander barrelled over the line but Argentina would not let the them pull away, as Ireland did against the Springboks, with Juan Manuel Leguizamon pulling a late try back and Ramiro Moyano adding another on the final whistle.
Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Alison Williams