Tomás QUINLAN was a most unlikely hero for the Ireland U20s when his exquisite touchline penalty turned agony to ecstasy in an 18-16 victory over Argentina at the World Cup in Parma yesterday.
A back injury to first choice out-half Ross Byrne allowed Joey Carbery to show his mettle with five penalties and late call-up Quinlan to immaculately seal the deal in dramatic circumstances.
"We made it hard for ourselves at times. We had a lot of tries there for the taking. We didn't take them," cautioned captain Nick McCarthy.
"I guess we're not here to entertain. Sometimes we don't need to be playing the best rugby. I think that let us down at times. We don't need to be throwing the ball around so much, just hold our patience."
The Argentinians were predictably big, bullish and brutally aggressive.
Second row David O'Connor poached the ball for a gain of position and, when flanker Lucas Gasparri failed to roll away at a ruck, Carbery nudged Ireland in front.
Stephen Fitzgerald was immediately blocked down by Juan Mallia for fly-half Domingo Miotti to square it.
A swift counter from the Irish, sparked by Carbery and Fitzgerald ended with flanker Josh Murphy dropping a simple ball with the line at his mercy.
Hooker McCall flunked his fourth throw-in and Ireland gave away a penalty at the first scrum. They were destroyed at the next one.
Openside Rory Moloney plucked away a turnover to trigger slick passing, wing Jacob Stockdale tackled into touch by full-back Emiliano Boffelli.
The breakthrough nearly came from the work of Stockdale, Carbery and Fitzgerald, referee Lloyd Linton judging Carbery's pass forward.
For all of Ireland's creativity, they were behind to Argentina's textbook lineout to maul and Miotti's drop goal.
It was soon level when Carbery nailed a penalty following close-in drives by scrum-half Nick McCarthy and blindside Murphy.
A previously completely dominant Argentina scrum engaged early to hand Carbery a shot at a 9-6 lead on half-time and he took it.
Ireland were put in their place when Santiago Portillo beat Carbery one-on-one and Miotti converted.
The reaction was positive. Carbery made gains from unstructured play and struck a penalty when Argentina bolted up offside.
Ireland were making almost all of the try-scoring chances, taking none of them.
But, refusal to release in the tackle saw Carbery recover the lead 15-13 in the 56th minute.
The inability of Ireland to get two scores clear was a source of concern, made greater when they slipped behind to full-back Boffelli's 78th minute penalty.
It looked all over from there. But hhey kept their composure to play through the phases and draw a penalty for Quinlan to clincially pinch it with the final kick.