15. Felix Jones: 6.5
Pinned Argentina back with a deft grubber kick as Ireland dominated possession in the opening exchanges but there were precious few opportunities for Jones to show his counter-attacking ability.
14. Andrew Trimble: 6.5
His interception of a looping Sanchez pass and canter to the posts effectively killed the tie as a contest. Otherwise Trimble will be disappointed to have been burned for speed by the impressive Montero not once, but twice.
13. Darren Cave: 7
It’s just a shame that Cave will no doubt be judged by ludicrously high standards because this was a solid performance. Four clean breaks, two defenders beaten for a total of 95 carry metres, and a stray foot and a few blades of grass denied him a late try.
12. Luke Marshall: 6.5
Heavily involved, albeit not always for positive reasons, Marshall was culpable defensively, letting Sanchez step inside for the opening try and missing three tackles. His interlinking with Sexton was good, however, and ultimately created the space for the out-half to run in after half-time.
11. Simon Zebo: 7
This performance won’t change opinions. Zebo has many fans and an equal number of doubters, and there were some nice touches amongst his 14 carries including a textbook offload which gave Cave an opportunity to finish in the corner.
10. Johnny Sexton: 7.5
So typical of Sexton to score at a crucial moment, his wraparound try via some nice hands from Marshall was the highlight as far as the Irish backs were concerned. The extent of his leg injury will determine whether Ian Madigan gets an opportunity at 10 in the second test.
9. Conor Murray: 8
Almost got to the line through bodies from short range and his box kicks continue to give chasers an opportunity to challenge, but it was his distribution which caught the eye in Resistencia. Murray passed 92% of his possession, asking questions of the Argentine defensive system.
1. Jack McGrath: 8.5
Almost certainly set for another start in the second test. With or without their established tests starters, for an Irish front row to dominate Argentina is praiseworthy and a significant proportion of that is due to McGrath.
2. Rory Best: 8
The lineout ran like clockwork with Henderson, O’Connell, and the new man Robbie Diack providing the targets, while Best was also quick to challenge on the ground and a solid operator in the set-piece.
3. Mike Ross: 7.5
Rock steady on the tight-head, Ross has finished this season strongly. The fantastically named Rodney Ah You got some exposure too but Schmidt is unlikely to go with anyone other than Mr Reliable for the second Test.
4. Iain Henderson: 8
Good feet, nice hands, 11 tackles and a flawless display in the lineout, Henderson needs a big tour to challenge Toner for the right to partner Paul O’Connell in the second row going forward, and Schmidt may be tempted to give him another run next week.
5. Paul O’Connell: 7.5
On the occasion of his 100th test, a first in Argentina, the captain summarized the game; great result, disappointing performance. O’Connell set the maul rolling for Henry’s try, and put himself about without ever dominating the Pumas pack like he can.
6. Robbie Diack: 7.5
Diack had a strong debut to put his name in the mix amongst the contenders in Ireland’s most competitive position, and his ability in the lineout could work in his favour when future squads are announced. His athletic steal led to Sexton’s try.
7. Chris Henry: 6.5
Scored his second test try, and grafted as hard as always in the face of the physical Pumas, but despite topping the tackle count with 15 there were a few which slipped away, all of which Henry would have expected to make.
8. Jordi Murphy: 7
Relatively quiet until a key passage of play early in the second period, after Diack had stolen a lineout Murphy set off on a tumbling carry which the retreating Argentine defence failed to recover from, creating the opportunity for Sexton to score to the right of the posts.
Of the debutants you would expect Kieran Marmion to be involved more than Rodney Ah You in the future, and the Connacht scrum-half did no harm to his reputation in a decent twenty minute cameo.
Elsewhere, Jamie Heaslip came on to steady the ship, but sunk when smashed back in a tackle, retreating 10-15 metres, but he’ll be expected to start next week with the rest of the Leinster contingent also made available.
By David Blair (@viscount_dave)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images