IRELAND SWEPT ARGENTINA aside 46-24 at the Aviva Stadium to confirm their spot in the second-tier of the World Cup rankings.
A seven-try performance put paid to notions that the Pumas would run the Irish close.
The match was over as a contest by half-time after Ireland ran in four tries and sliced the visiting defence to shreds.
Craig Gilroy, on his debut, sparked the Irish backline throughout and got the games first try.
Jonny Sexton, who recorded his highest points total to date, scored the first of his tries on 15 minutes and repeated the dose in the second half.
No fear from Gilroy
The first scoring opportunity fell to the Pumas as Gordon D’Arcy was penalised for going off his feet in the tackle but the kick from Nicolas Sanchez struck the uprights.
Ireland began to make some serious headway deep into Argentina territory as Richardt Strauss and Gilroy made promising darts.
The game’s first try came after 12 minutes when Gilroy took a Jonny Sexton pass, jinked inside Sanchez and beat two covering defenders to dive over.
The Ulster winger was mobbed by his teammates before Sexton composed himself to land a conversion.
Gilroy races over for Ireland’s first try. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
Peter O’Mahony’s obstruction from the restart gave Sanchez the chance to tag Ireland back and he made no mistake with his second attempt.
Ireland stretched their lead further on 16 minutes when Gordon D’Arcy opted not to pass first time, drew in two defenders and teed up Sexton.
The out-half still had much to do to score but rode two tackles to touch down before adding the extras.
Earls was the next Irish player to err at the restart and a Sanchez penalty made it 14-6 midway through the half.
Forwards get involved
An intelligent grubber kick from Zebo almost set Earls clear for a try but, from the resulting lineout, Donnacha Ryan set up a maul, Richardt Strauss peeled off the back and the T.M.O confirmed try number three.
With 29 minutes on the clock, the Pumas pressed in attack for the first time and Earls saved a certain try in the corner. Play was called back for a penalty, which Sanchez converted, but it was a wake-up call for Declan Kidney’s men.
Tommy Bowe was the next man in green to get the crowd on their feet as he claimed a high ball magnificently after a Sexton up-and-under.
The attacking platform was set and Sexton was the creator again as his skip pass found Zebo to score his first international try.
Argentina had the last scoring chance of the half but Sanchez missed wide and right and Ireland were applauded off the pitch.
Bowe joins the party
There was little respite for Santiago Phelan’s charges at the start of the second-half as an early Sanchez penalty was cancelled out by Sexton when Ireland’s scrum rumbled forward and drew a whistle from referee Jaco Peyper.
Argentina were looking for the bill and eyeing the exit doors on 47 minutes after a smart Conor Murray chip was chased down by Bowe for Ireland’s fifth try.
Sexton’s conversion hit the post again but he would add five points soon after after he was slipped in by Ryan to score his second try.
The game, as it inevitably does now that teams have eight substitutes apiece, got scrappy midway through the half.
The next talking point came on 63 minutes when Argentinean prop Maximiliano Bustos was sent to the sin-bin for throwing the ball flush in Cian Healy’s face, sparking some jersey-gripping fury on both sides.
Sexton spoke before the match about Ireland getting the ‘rub of the green’ and he was taking his place on the bench to witness some.
His replacement, Ronan O’Gara, passed to Earls and his grunbber kicked fortunately bounced up for Zebo to kick on and Bowe to touch down. O’Gara’s conversion made it 46-17.
Pumas flanker Tomas Leonardi and captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe bundled over for late tries but it was little consolation and Ireland could yet finish the November internationals ranked sixth in the world.
Ireland: Tries – Sexton and Bowe , Strauss, Zebo, Gilroy. Pens – Sexton . Conversions – Sexton , O’Gara 
Argentina: Tries – Leonardi, Fernandez Lobbe. Pens – Sanchez . Conversions – Hernandez.