Tomas Quinlan was Ireland’s hero at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, the replacement holding his nerve to slot a penalty from the right touchline with time up on the clock to snatch an 18-16 victory Pool C victory over Argentina as the sides got their Under-20 World Cup underway.
Argentina looked to have sneaked the victory in the first meeting between the two sides at the U20 Championship since 2010 when full-back Emiliano Boffelli kicked a 77th minute penalty, Los Pumitas finally earning a reward for a period of pressure having already been held up over the line.
Ireland, semi-finalists in 2014, would have been disappointed to have only led 9-6 at half-time, thanks to three penalties from fly-half Joey Carbery, who stepped seamlessly into the No.10 shirt after the loss of key man Ross Byrne to injury last week.
The Irish had enjoyed the best attacking opportunities, their backline creating chances on both flanks but handling errors and last-ditch Argentine tackling kept them at bay with Los Pumitas’ replying with a penalty and drop goal from fly-half Domingo Miotti.
Argentina made the best possible start to the second half, a break by captain Bautista Ezcurra resulting in the ball being recycled for replacement Santiago Portillo to find space to squeeze over in the corner. Miotti slotted the conversion but two Carbery penalties pushed Ireland back ahead 15-13.
New Zealand lead Pool C after thumping Scotland 68-10. Ireland will meet Scotland on Saturday before facing New Zealand in what should be the pool decider.