Italy v Ireland, Six Nations Championship, February 15
O'Driscoll praise for improving Ireland
February 15, 2009
Luke Fitzgerald was on the scoresheet twice in Rome © Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll was delighted with the patience shown by Ireland as they continued their assault on the Six Nations title with a 38-9 victory over Italy.
Tommy Bowe, David Wallace and Brian O'Driscoll crossed while Luke Fitzgerald ran in a pair of tries as Ireland made it two wins from two matches in the championship. But they had to survive a spirited early onslaught from Italy, who conceded late tries to Fitzgerald and O'Driscoll after their heads dropped in the final 10 minutes.
"We're happy to have won. The scoreline may flatter us but we'll take anything we can get," said captain O'Driscoll. "It's pleasing that things didn't start well for us but the longer the game went on the better we got.
"We were patient and knew we'd have to wait to break them down before taking our opportunities. They didn't score a try and that's because of our defence, not because of their lack of ability. Things didn't click for them today."
England at Croke Park in a fortnight is the next assignment and O'Driscoll is pleased with Ireland's progress through the championship so far.
"We're where we want to be. We've played two games and won two games. Any time you come to Rome and score 38 points you'd be happy," he said. "We're pleased but there's plenty to work on, which is a good place to be. There's still a lot of graft to put in before the England game."
Three of Ireland's tries came from Italian mistakes, the first by Bowe arriving completely against the run of play as he intercepted a loose pass. Italy had been 6-0 up at that stage and went on to concede another to Fitzgerald on the stroke of half-time, handing the visitors a 14-9 lead they hardly deserved. Ireland took control after the interval with head coach Declan Kidney admitting Bowe's try was a crucial moment.
"I'm delighted with the win," said Kidney. "It's very important to keep a balance when you look at the match. Sometimes you don't win, even though you don't play very well.
"I thought we were very patient after 20 minutes. In the first 20 minutes we were pushing it a little bit and Italy had us under enormous pressure. Because there was so much competition at the breakdown we were conceding penalties which put them in front.
"Our first try was well taken by Tommy but we were a bit fortunate to get it. It was a big relief because had Italy moved to 9-0 it could have been quite different. That try was a huge lift for us."
Ireland winger Luke Fitzgerald immediately looked forward to the visit of England to Croke Park in two weeks time after his two tries helped his side to a 38-9 win over a spiky Italy in Rome.
Fitzgerald was on target in the first and second halves and has played up the self-belief and confidence in the Ireland squad following their opening victories over France and Italy.
"There's a certain amount of self-confidence but we know England are always a tough challenge - they're such a physical side," Fitzgerald told BBC2.
Fitzgerald's first try, scored while Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara was in the sin-bin, was the result of some superb phase play from the Ireland forwards. As the clock ticked down towards half-time Ireland racked up 19 patient phases before Fitzgerald latched on to a pass from Stephen Ferris to score.
"There was a huge amount of work put into the try. I was delighted for a break and thank God we won," he said. "It was a really tough match. They fought really hard in the first half and we probably made a few errors to make it tough for ourselves."