15. Rob Kearney: 7
Consistently Ireland’s most evasive runner, regularly asking questions of the Argentina defensive line with a variety of threatening angles.
14. Andrew Trimble: 6
Spent ten minutes in the bin, guilty of an early tackle as the Pumas broke for the Irish line, which contributed to Ireland’s lack of fluidity in the second quarter.
13. Fergus McFadden: 6
His turn in O’Driscoll’s jersey, which looks set to be swapped amongst the potential suitors in the autumn too, saw iffy communication and understanding with Cave inside him.
12. Darren Cave: 6
Less familiar as the inside centre, Cave was caught out of position on occasion including in the lead up to the Tuculet score, but came within inches of a morale boosting score after taking Rhys Ruddock’s offload.
11. Simon Zebo: 7.5
Goose-stepped his way to the try-line untouched but not undeservedly, and more significantly Schmidt will have taken note of a few important covering tackles.
10. Johnny Sexton: 7
Tried to vary Ireland’s attack with a couple of cross-kicks intended to by-pass the impressive Argentine line speed, before a clash of heads ended his game prematurely.
9. Eoin Reddan: 7
Like Murray last week Reddan was keen to keep the ball in hand and Ireland on the front foot, creating space for Kearney and Zebo running off his shoulder.
1. Dave Kilcoyne: 7
Ireland are strong at loose-head. Kilcoyne ended his international hiatus with a productive hour in a dominant set piece which lends Ireland the potential to experiment with McGrath at tight-head.
2. Rory Best: 7.5
Joe Schmidt admitted the set piece had ‘saved us’ in both tests somewhat. 27 clean lineouts in the series is impressive, and Best was one of a minority to improve in the loose this week contributing the highest tackle tally in Tucuman.
3. Mike Ross: 7
Obviously the set-piece held up well but Ross is still a capable operator around the field, and better than this showing. Joe Schmidt would dearly loved to have given Marty Moore two starts in the tests.
4. Devin Toner: 6
Another cap in a superb season, absolutely an unsung hero in the pack, but made little impact before being replaced by Iain Henderson in the second half.
5. Paul O’Connell: 7
Disappointed with Ireland’s inaccuracies, like Schmidt Paul O’Connell demands higher standards, but he concedes that a series win was the ultimate objective and as captain and pack leader his contribution was significant.
6. Rhys Ruddock: 7.5
Joe Schmidt faces a selection dilemma in the back-row with two contenders both putting their hands up in Resistencia and Tucuman respectively. Ruddock was a force throughout, his superb offload to Cave deserved an assist.
7. Chris Henry: 5.5
Fatigued at the end of a gruelling season? Henry was replaced after an hour, with Jordi Murphy coming on in his place, during which his impact was limited and key tackles were missed.
8. Jamie Heaslip: 5.5
Out of sorts, a sloppy inside pass after breaking off an attacking scrum and the unfortunate (weak) surrender of possession to a fly-half in the tackle summed up his shift, but he still managed to record decent stats.
Despite the lacklustre performance, a series win and debuts for Rob Herring, James Cronin and Neil Reid in Tucuman will at least give Joe Schmidt reason to be content.
Of the replacements Iain Henderson and try-scorer Ian Madigan made the greatest impact on proceedings, but the Pumas finished the stronger side.
By David Blair (@viscount_dave)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images