Argentina beat Ireland to finish top of group

Argentina defeated Ireland 30-15 on Sunday to clinch first place in the toughest of the four World Cup groups and qualify for a quarterfinal against Scotland next weekend.

Hosts France, who were beaten by the Pumas in the tournament’s opening match, defeated Georgia 64-7 in their final Pool D match.

Their dubious reward for finishing second in the group is a quarterfinal against the tournament favourites New Zealand in Cardiff next Saturday.

Argentina will meet the Scots at the Stade de France on Sunday. In the other quarterfinals, Australia play England on Saturday and South Africa take on Fiji in Marseille on Sunday.

France scored the bonus point they needed in Marseille on Sunday to maintain their hopes of finishing top in the group and avoiding the All Blacks on neutral territory.

But they still needed Ireland to beat Argentina without the Pumas getting a bonus point.

Ireland, for their part, needed to score at least four tries to snatch a quarter-final place.

The Irish started full of fire and fury for the first time in the tournament but then fell away to trail 18-10 at the interval after tries to Argentina wingers Lucas Borges and Horacio Agulla.

Although captain Brian O’Driscoll and fullback Geordan Murphy scored each side of halftime, Ireland were forced to play much of the game in their own half.

“They kicked a lot of ball deep and then we had to run it out of defence. We gave it our best shot but we couldn’t get enough field position.
It was a tough World Cup for us,” coach Eddie O’Sullivan told ITV television.

Argentina flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez was the key player for his team, kicking three drop goals at crucial moments.

South Africa, who had already qualified for the knockout stages, were scheduled to play the final match of the group stages against the United States in Montpellier. - Reuters

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