IRELAND’S dreams of securing a first ever World Cup semi-final appearance were left shattered by a clinical Argentina side in their last eight clash at a heaving Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Keith Earls and his Irish team mates were left shell-shocked as the Pumas scored a deserved 43-20 victory in the Welsh capital.
Ireland have never won a knock-out game at the World Cup and this was the nation’s sixth quarter-final appearance, together with a quarter-final play-off in 1999.
Ireland centre Earls said that, despite losing key players, they felt they could go further than previous Irish teams by beating Argentina in Cardiff.
“Going into the game we were confident we had the players,” said Earls after the defeat.
Ireland, ranked third in the world, paid the ultimate price for a slow start which saw Joe Schmidt’s side cough up 17 unanswered points inside the opening 15 minutes.
While Ireland did hit back to get within three points at 20-23 in the second half, the exertion took its toll and Argentina powered clear, racking up 20 unanswered points for a deserved win.
The absence of the injured Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Jared Payne, Jonathan Sexton and suspended flanker Sean O’Brien was keenly felt by a well-beaten Irish side.