Ireland 21-23 South Africa, Aviva Stadium, November 6
O'Driscoll questions approach
ESPNscrum Staff
November 6, 2010
Ireland fullback Rob Kearney crosses in the corner, Ireland v South Africa, autumn international, Aviva stadium, Dublin, Ireland, November 6, 2010
Rob Kearney's late try was not enough for Ireland to complete their comeback © Getty Images

Brian O'Driscoll admitted Ireland may have pursued the wrong game-plan in their 23-21 defeat by South Africa at Aviva Stadium.

Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney scored tries in the last 15 minutes as Ireland staged a fightback inspired by the appearance of substitute Ronan O'Gara, who won his 100th cap. Incessant rain took its toll on the match with both sides making mistakes and O'Driscoll felt Ireland should have played the conditions.

"Only the 30 guys who took to the field have a real understanding of what the conditions were like out there," said the captain. "The ball was like a bar of soap and both teams made unforced errors. We tried to play a bit and to try things out.

"Maybe that wasn't the smartest thing to do in those conditions but we're trying to build our game-plan and have a go. It was also our first international of the season. Individuals will have to look at some of the uncharacteristic knock-ons they made."

Head coach Declan Kidney refused to heap too much praise on O'Gara whose appearance coincided with Ireland's best period, although the Munster fly-half missed a conversion that would have tied the game.

"Ronan had a good influence and Peter Stringer had a lot of influence when he came on," said Kidney. "The quality of the ball they were getting got better with 20 minutes to go as well when Donnacha Ryan coming on. The groundwork was laid by the guys who went before them. A huge defensive effort went into the first 60 minutes. It's easy to write off that first 60 minutes."

Ireland slumped to their fourth successive Test defeat and Kidney admitted they had left themselves with too much to do after slipping 23-9 down until the 69th minute when Bowe started the comeback.

"The fact we got within two points of them is disappointing but you can never take for granted how much fight these guys have," he said. "You could really see that in the last 20 minutes. We kept the scoreboard going in the final quarter but were just too far behind.

"South Africa got field position and when the few opportunities came their way they managed to take them. They had a big and experienced pack."

South Africa ran in tries through Juan Smith and Gio Aplon and coach Peter de Villiers was delighted his side, which finished bottom of the Tri-Nations, held out in the final five minutes.

"Every win is important to us. At the end there we saw some ghosts from the Tri-Nations," he said. "We always knew coming here was going to be tough and maybe we gave up too early. But then again to pull it through was a great achievement."

De Villiers explained his decision to replace fly-half Morne Steyn with Patrick Lambie, a change that coincided with South Africa's change in fortunes.

"It was a tactical decision to take Morne off. It was a time to play more attacking rugby," he said. "We were controlling the game in the forwards and I didn't know what would happen later in the tour so I wanted him to give him a game while we had a comfortable lead."

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