Standing in their way are hosts Argentina, who have received the vociferous backing of the home crowd so far, turning the home of Newell’s Old Boys into an intimidating arena that English coach Mark Mapletoft described as being tougher to play in than Gloucester’s notorious Kingsholm.
Both sides come into the game on the back of defeats in the pool that has lived up to its ‘group of death’ reputation.
A win for Ireland would qualify the Six Nations champions for the competitive fifth-placed play-offs.
But despite losing heavily to England in their opening game, the hosts carry a threat and have given both France and the English scares in their games so far.
One of those was the crowd reception, but Irish number eight Paddy Butler is relishing the prospect.
“You’ve got to like that,” the Munster man said. “That’s what you want. You want to come up against a home crowd like that and put your body on the line for your country.
“It’s great experience, it reminds you of matches in France or back in Thomond Park where the crowd really get behind the team, it’s great.
“It’s a huge game against Argentina. They’re the home team and they’ll be really up for it. It would be very disappointing if we didn’t get into the fifth to eighth place after the Six Nations so we need to beat Argentina and get into that stage and then hopefully win a few games.”
Allen Clarke welcomes wing Darren Hudson back to the squad from injury, while Argentina are without their star fullback Ramiro Moyano who was stretchered off in the defeat to France.
IRELAND: A Conway (Blackrock/Leinster); D Hudson (St Mary’s/Leinster), B Macken (Blackrock/Leinster), N Spence (Ballynahinch/Ulster), S Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); J McKinney (Queens/Ulster), J Cooney (UCD/Leinster); J O’Connell (Lansdowne/Leinster), N Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), S Maguire (Old Belvedere/Leinster); D O’Callaghan (UCC/Munster), B Marshall (UCD/Leinster), R Ruddock (capt, UCD/Leinster), D Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), P Butler (Shannon/Munster).
Replacements: D Doyle (UCD/Leinster), B Cagney (UCC/Munster), B Hayes (Cork Constitution/Munster), B O’Hara (UL Bohemian/Munster), M Heaney (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), N Reid (UCD/Leinster), E Griffin (Corinthians/Connacht).
ARGENTINA: M Pedro; P Kantarovsky, B Ormson, F Haustein, M Montero; I Rodriguez Muedra, S Mendez; F Errecaborde, T Baravalle, VD Arias; M Alemano, L Ponce; G Villa, T De La Vega, A Kessen (capt).