Ireland 20-20 Australia, Croke Park, November 15
O'Driscoll hails resurgent O'Gara
November 16, 2009
Brian O'Driscoll touches down for his last-gasp try at Croke Park © Getty Images
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll heaped praise on Ronan O'Gara after the fly-half answered his critics in the 20-20 draw with Australia at Croke Park.
O'Gara suffered a nightmare on the British & Irish Lions' tour to South Africa in the summer with an ill-fated cameo in the second Test defeat to the Springboks and has also been the subject of criticism since returning to the domestic stage with Munster. But O'Driscoll was impressed by the veteran's contribution, that included a 10-point haul, despite a third-minute error that handed the opening try to Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell.
"I thought Ronan was really good. He controlled the game very well and passed very well," he said. "That first pass was a fraction too deep but we'll take 50-50 blame for that. His kicking was good and he read things well.
"It was a big performance - not that any of his team-mates who have played with him a lot of time felt he needed it. He's involved in a team that's top of their Heineken Cup group and three points off the lead in the Magners League yet people are giving a little about him. That's rough."
O'Gara converted O'Driscoll's late try with the last kick of the match to secure Ireland a share of the spoils in Dublin and end the Wallabies' hopes of a grand slam tour of the UK and Ireland.
"I'm pleased we were rewarded for showing the bottle to stick with them until the death and grind out a draw," added O'Driscoll. "We tried a lot of things. Not everything stuck but plenty of things did. If you don't try these things you don't get better. We'll all be better for having played together. It's difficult to click when you haven't played together for six months. Australia have played a lot recently and for the most part we did reasonably well."
O'Driscoll's try was the product of a well-drilled set-piece move that saw him run onto a pass from Tomas O'Leary to stroll over unopposed.
"It's a smart play that we've practised a lot over the last year. In the Six Nations we didn't have the chance to use it," said O'Driscoll. "It's nice when plays like that come off."