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Bowe proud of Ireland displays

Tommy Bowe insists Ireland can reflect on a punishing autumn with pride despite winning just two of their matches.

A record 29-9 victory over old foes Argentina at Aviva Stadium on Sunday ensured the Irish end the year in fifth place in the world rankings. But the 50% return from four Tests, combined with some mixed performances, is disappointing for a team of such ambition and ability.

But Bowe, who started all four games said: "We can hold our heads up. To finish with our highest winning margin against Argentina in the last game of the year is a great positive for us going through to the Six Nations."

He added: "Whenever we've had dry ball, we've shown that we're able to throw it about. That's the type of rugby that we want to play.

"We have plenty of players who are willing to play good rugby. When we get the chance, we're able to cut teams open and we'll be looking to do more of that."

The fact Ireland's best display was also their heaviest defeat - a 38-18 loss to New Zealand - sums up their perplexing autumn.

Beyond trouble at the set-pieces, it is hard to explain exactly why they have struggled, though it is no coincidence the All Blacks match was contested in dry conditions suited to an open game.

Even when subjecting Argentina, feared rivals who have traditionally been horrid opposition, to a record defeat it felt as though something was missing. The Pumas were poor and never got going amid sub-zero temperatures in Dublin until well into the second half, by which point Ireland were already out of sight.

Some of the decision making from Ireland was questionable after the interval, but Bowe was satisfied with the progress made.

"The ball was relatively slippy with the snow, but we improved on the areas of the game that we wanted to from last week," he said. "New Zealand were a totally different challenge but we're delighted with the win."

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