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RUGBY UNION: Argentina 34 Ireland 23 IRELAND WILT AS PUMAS POWER IN; Late burst proves too much.

A LATE killer blow finally saw off battling Ireland in Buenos Aires last night.

And it was delivered by Northampton prop Martin Scelzo as Ireland's World Cup conquerors Argentina triumphed again.

The Irish, who trailed 8-5 at half-time, led three times in the second half but they wilted late in the game, and tries from Scelzo - who powered over from close range - and right-wing Octavio Bartolucci saw Argentina run out relatively comfortable winners.

Left-wing Justin Bishop and centre Rob Henderson both crossed after the break as the lead see-sawed between the sides, and Ireland led 18-17 when fly-half David Humphreys - having missed three conversions and a penalty - finally landed a penalty.

But Ireland, who will complete their three-Test tour with matches against the USA and Canada, faded badly at the death.

Pumas fly-half Gonzalo Quesada missed an early conversion attempt after full-back Ignacio Carleto had claimed the opening try but then found his range to contribute 19 points with five penalties and two conversions.

Argentina made the early running, and the Irish had to ride their luck.

But the Pumas broke the deadlock in the 14th minute with a try from full-back Carleto. Quesada missed with the conversion, and Ireland were already facing an uphill battle.

But they stunned the Pumas by drawing level with an O'Kelly try in the 21st minute.

A powerful drive from number eight Anthony Foley stretched the home defence, and 6ft 7in St Mary's College lock O'Kelly took advantage to power over from close range.

Quesada landed a penalty from just outside the Irish 22 to give the Pumas an 8-5 lead but Ireland regained the lead seven minutes into the second half with a sparkling try created by right-wing Shane Horgan and scored by Bishop.

Humphreys was off target with the conversion, but Ireland were ahead for the first time at 10-8. But their lead was short-lived as, almost straightaway, Quesada landed a penalty to edge the Pumas back in front at 11-10.

Ireland were unruffled and swiftly regained the initiative with centre Rob Henderson storming over for a try in the corner with the home defence in tatters.

Humphreys again failed to tag on the extra two points and Quesada pulled the Pumas back to within a point with his third penalty and kicked a fourth 10 minutes from time to give the hosts a 17-15 lead.

But with seven minutes left the Irish were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and, having missed three conversions and a penalty, Humphreys finally broke his duck to kick Ireland ahead again at 18-17.

But Ireland wilted in the closing minutes, and after Scelzo had forced his way over Bartolucci won the race for a kick ahead to touch down inches inside the dead-ball line.

Quesada landed both conversions, and the Pumas had triumphed again.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Lyons, John
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2000
Words:471
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