On target: Drop goal hero Juan Martin Hernandez takes on the defence

PARIS, 30 September - Argentina defeated Ireland 30 - 15 to wrap up first place in Pool D at Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday.

The Pumas assured their passage to a quarter-final against Scotland in Paris with a composed and dominant forward display at the breakdown, banishing host nation France to Cardiff where they will meet New Zealand.

Leading 18-10 at half time centre Felipe Contepomi increased Argentina's lead with a penalty in the 42nd minute.

But Ireland weren't about to lie down, full back Geordan Murphy finishing off a neat backline move to cross out wide for his side's second five-pointer in the 47th. Fly half Ryan O'Gara failed with the conversion but the Irish were back within striking distance.

The game moved end-to-end as both sides attempted to take the upper hand on the hour before Contepomi banked two penalties, extending the lead to 27-15.

Argentina fly half Juan Martin Hernandez's third drop goal in the 79th minute put the result beyond doubt.

Ireland signalled their intentions early opting to use the ball after a fourth minute penalty instead of kicking. However, they turned the ball over at the ensuing line-out.

They got another chance in the 20th minute, this time O'Gara snapped up three points but not before the Pumas had taken a 5-0 lead through a well-worked try to wing Lucas Borge three minutes earlier.

Hernandez landed a long-range drop goal, taking the score to 8-3 in the 32nd minute, before inspirational Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll broke the shackles for his side scoring next to the uprights after piercing the Pumas defence. O'Gara converted to give Ireland an unexpected 10-8 lead.

Hernandez's second drop goal and a try to wing Horacio Agulla just before the break gave the Pumas some breathing space.

RNS md/gs