Ireland crush Argentina
Ireland reacted to a potentially critical moment in Declan Kidney's reign as coach by posting a record 46-24 victory over feeble Argentina at Aviva Stadium.
The seven-try rout of opposition that clearly had nothing left in the tank after a long year guarantees Ireland's place among the second seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw.
Jonathan Sexton and Tommy Bowe scored a brace of tries each, while Craig Gilroy, Richardt Strauss and Simon Zebo also crossed for Ireland.
An 11th-minute scrum provided the platform for Ireland to take the lead with Gilroy supplying the magic. The 21-year-old came racing off his wing to take an inside pass from Sexton around the 22 and beat three defenders as he weaved a path to the whitewash.
Centre Gordon D'Arcy then passed back inside to Sexton and the Leinster fly-half showed strength as he broke two tackles to crash over. Both conversions were landed by Sexton, but with Nicolas Sanchez slotting two penalties, Argentina remained in touch.
The Pumas suffered a blow when Sanchez departed for the concussion bin and their situation deteriorated further when Ireland produced a third try. Once more it came from the set piece with Strauss coming up with the ball following a line-out drive and touching down in the right corner.
Ireland were soon back on the offensive after Sanchez booted a third penalty and Bowe caught a high kick to initiate a passage of play that ended when Sexton sent Zebo a missed pass with the Munster full-back diving over in the left corner.
When Sanchez landed his fourth penalty shortly after half-time, a Pumas comeback looked a possibility but those hopes were soon dashed as their scrum backpedalled furiously, presenting Sexton with a shot at goal that he steered between the uprights.
Argentina's collapse continued unchecked as Ireland ran in two more tries in quick succession with Sexton heavily involved in both scores. First the 27-year-old produced the chip kick that enabled Bowe to gather and touch down before finishing himself with Donnacha Ryan supplying the scoring pass.
The final Irish try arrived when Bowe pounced on Keith Earls' chip kick, but substitute Tomas Leonardi and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe scored late tries to give Argentina some respectability on the scoreboard.