Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

O'Driscoll seeks positives

Brian O'Driscoll

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll insisted it was a "good workout" after his side made a successful, if stuttering, start to the defence of their RBS 6 Nations crown with a 29-11 win over Italy at Croke Park.

Jamie Heaslip and Tomas O'Leary scored first-half tries as O'Driscoll's men established a 23-3 lead, but they failed to press home their advantage in a disappointing second half.

"I think it was a good workout," he said. "It's not easy to click immediately having only been together for two weeks and not having played together since November."

He added: "There is plenty to improve on. It's the first one and job done. We'll take the positives out of it and move on.

"We showed an ability in the first half to turn defence into attack and the amount of line-out ball we won was a big plus.

"We made some good line breaks but didn't finish them off. Maybe we need to improve our support play."

Prolific fly-half Ronan O'Gara, recalled in place of the injured Jonathan Sexton, opened the scoring on nine minutes with the first of six goals from as many attempts to become the first player to score 500 points in the championship.

When Heaslip and O'Leary scored tries before half-time the champions looked set to run away with it, but tigerish Italian defence kept them tryless after the break.

Coach Declan Kidney said: "We definitely know we have a lot of things to do but we took a conscious decision not to come together until late.

"There was a small bit of rustiness. We're delighted with the win. If you look at it compared to last year's game, there is not a lot of difference."

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