Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan gave his reaction to the press in the aftermath of tonight’s three-point win over Italy in Belfast. Read on for what he had to say.
ON IRELAND’S OVERALL DISPLAY:
“Disappointed is a word I’d use. We didn’t create anything really. We didn’t really get into a rhythm out there. In the first half we played into a strong wind and we had most of the ball in our own half and a lot of lineouts. It was a stop-start game. Second half we needed to ratchet it up and get into the game but we didn’t get that done.
“I’m very disappointed to say the least. It didn’t happen for us out there. I suppose the one good thing is we probably didn’t deserve to get that try at the end in the sense that it was against the run of play but we showed a lot of character to come back and win the game from that position. I think a lot of teams would have turned round and gone home.”
ON THE NEGATIVES AND POSITIVES OF THE GAME:
“I think our ruck ball was slowed down a lot tonight. The key to our game is quick ruck ball, clearing the ruck and getting it away quickly but there was a lot of digging for the ball tonight, a lot of slow ball. Italy are a physical side and once we didn’t get it going, we were on the back foot and it was going to be a hard day out.
“We won a lot of lineout ball but the maul didn’t work, which is often a good platform for us. We weren’t getting it going. We didn’t create the go-forward ball we’re used to playing off. Because of that Italy were able to hurt us.
“That’s a concern. Tonight was a good test but we didn’t pass it. We didn’t get the flowing game we wanted and failed to get the ball into the backs’ hands.
“It was a highly physical match. I think in the physically stakes in the back row we matched them. We won a lot of collisions out there and we defended very well. They’d a lot of ball but we put in a lot of big hits and Neil Best played remarkably well.
“We’re not a hundred miles away but we’ve got to make the fixes pretty soon. There is not a lot of time left (before the World Cup). At the end of the day, we have a lot of hard work to do over the next three weeks.”
ON RONAN O’GARA’S MATCH-WINNING TRY:
“The ball went backwards and that was my take on it. Ronan is happy he grounded it. “I talked to Ronan and he said that when the ball went back he got it down with his hands. That’s his take on it.
“I didn’t see all the angles on the video, which I don’t think clears everything up. I don’t want to make a major issue out of it. If it happened in the Six Nations we would be talking about it a lot more. It was the difference between winning and losing but all four tries in the game were funny.”