Ireland 62-12 Russia, Rugby World Cup, September 25, 2011
O'Gara: Momentum is key
ESPNscrum Staff
September 25, 2011
Ireland's Ronan O'Gara gets ready to knock over a conversion, Ireland v Russia, Rugby World Cup, Rotorua International Stadium, New Zealand, September 25, 2011
Ronan O'Gara's strong display has given the Irish management a selection dilema © Getty Images
Related Links
Players/Officials: Declan Kidney | Ronan O'Gara
Tournaments/Tours: Rugby World Cup
Teams: Ireland | Italy | Russia

Ronan O'Gara implored Ireland to maintain the momentum they have established with three successive World Cup victories by beating Italy next weekend.

The Irish flattened Russia 62-12 at Rotorua International Stadium, running nine tries past Pool C's whipping boys to cement their place at the summit of the group. O'Gara was instrumental in the win, finishing with 15 points and missing just one shot at goal in a man of the match display.

Defeat to Italy has the capacity to dump Ireland out of the World Cup and O'Gara insisted it is vital they continue their strong form.

"We're in good shape but it counts for nothing unless we do the business in the final round," he said. "There's always some catch with this team. It's a big weekend but it's a weekend to look forward to.

"Now that we have this momentum it's important that we don't let go of it. Once you have momentum in sport, you must make the most of it. Mentally the squad is in a good place and that's probably more important than to be in a good place physically."

O'Gara's performance has left coach Declan Kidney with a selection headache for the critical showdown with Italy in Dunedin. Jonathan Sexton is first choice fly-half, but has yet to convince in his starts against the United States and Australia.

"I've always felt like I have an important role to play for this team, whether it's as a starter or coming on," said O'Gara. "There's a role for me and a really important one. Sometimes you can't have much impact in half an hour, so it was great to get 67 minutes against Russia.

"I felt refreshed and comfortable and am enjoying it at the moment. I felt sharp out there. When we kept things simple we were good, when we overcomplicated things we weren't so good so there's a lesson there.

"It was a great team selection. There was good youth and good experience. The management got it right. There was a real excitement all week, we trained very well. There's great hunger in the squad and that's important.

"We started by taking the wind which was a big call because usually you always play into it. We tried to kill off the Russian threat and within 15 minutes we were 17-0 up, so that was a decision that went for us. It killed them off a bit, but they never gave in and kept at us."

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