Friday 26 December 2014

Did Ireland look like champions yesterday?

Tom Cary

Published 09/03/2014 | 14:02

Brian O'Driscoll helped Ireland secure a convincing win over Italy
Brian O'Driscoll helped Ireland secure a convincing win over Italy
8 March 2014; Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll, with his daughter Sadie, leave the pitch after the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll watches the game from his seat after being substituted, with Jonathan Sexton and team masseur Willie Bennett, right. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, greets former Ireland player Ronan O'Gara after being substituted during the second half. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their child Sadie Huberman O'Driscoll before the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie before the game. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie before the game. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, waves to him just before the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, in action during the game. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll arrives at the Aviva today
Leonardo Sarto of Italy celebrates after scoring his team's first try of the game during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, on the way scoring his side's first try
Ireland's Andrew Trimble and Italy's Quentin Geldenhuys during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland passes ahead of Gonzalo Garcia of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy at Aviva Stadium
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland waves farewell to the fans after his last home appearance the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is applauded off the field by his team mates after his last home appearance the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland breaks away during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Gordon D'Arcy of Ireland is tackled by Michele Campagnaro of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Irelands Jamie Heaslip and Sean Cronin celebrate his try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Sean Cronin scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Andrew Trimble scores his side's second try despite the attentions of Italy's Tito Tebaldi and Joshua Furno (right) during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie from the pitch as his team-mates form a guard of honor after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with wife Amy Huberman and daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll kisses his wife Amy Huberman as she holds daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Man of the match Brian O'Driscoll leaves the pitch with his daughter Sadie during his last home game during the RBS Six Nations match with Italy at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie on the pitch after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match against Italy at Aviva stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll heads down the tunnel after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll carries his daughter Sadie at the end of the Six Nations rugby union match against Italy
Irelands Jamie Heaslip and Sean Cronin celebrate his try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is embraced by his mother Geraldine along with his wife Amy Huberman (left) holding their daughter Sadie after his final home international at the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll applauds a late Ireland try during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after he left the field during the RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Man of the match Brian O'Driscoll leaves the pitch during his last home game during the RBS Six Nations match with Italy at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll leaves the field after beating Italy in the Six Nations rugby union match at Aviva stadium in Dublin
Ireland's Sean Cronin (bottom right) scores a try against Italy
Amy Huberman, Brian O'Driscoll's wife, with their baby Sadie Huberman O'Driscoll before the game
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, offloads the ball to Jonathan Sexton leading to his side's fourth try
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with his mother Geraldine after the game.
Brian O'Driscoll's wife Amy Huberman, with daughter Sadie,look on after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with teammate Gordon D'Arcy after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll with teammate Jonathan Sexton after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll salutes the fans after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll looks emotional after the game.
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the game.
Ireland's Jack McGrath, left, is congratulated by team-mates Paddy Jackson, right, and Eoin Reddan after scoring his side's final try
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll sings the National Anthem with team mascots, Oran Richardson, age 7, from Malahide, Dublin, left, and Katie Kennedy, age 7, from Terenure, ahead of the game.
Leonardo Sarto of Italy runs in his team's first try of the game during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is tackled by Luciano Orquera of Italy during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland breaks away during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Cian Healy of Ireland scores a try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is applauded off the field by his team mates after his last home appearance
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland is replaced by Fergus McFadden in the second half
Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Mike Ross of Ireland sing the National Anthem

Did Ireland do enough in their victory over Italy in Dublin to prove they will be claim the Six Nations crown in Paris?

ATTACK

Ireland were both sloppy and clinical in the first half, guilty perhaps of trying too hard to rack up points and put on a show for Brian O'Driscoll's Dublin swansong.

Multiple handling errors and poor decisions were interspersed with inspired blind passes, with O'Driscoll's pop off the shoulder to Jonny Sexton for Ireland's first the pick of the bunch.

They did not make much use of their much vaunted rolling maul in the first half, although cracked it out to good effect after the interval.

Ireland were still fairly ragged in the second half but you can't argue with 27 unanswered points.

7.5/10

DEFENCE

O'Driscoll was instrumental here, too, committing to rucks and securing plenty of ball for the hosts.

One trademark tackle at the start of the second half, from which he rose quickly and got over on the ball, won Ireland a penalty.

But Italy always looked a threat from open play. Sarto fully deserved his try, even if it owed a lot to a sliced hack from O'Driscoll and a missed tackle by Rob Kearney.

Only some last-ditch tackling prevented further scores. Will need to sharpen up defensively for the trip to Paris.

7/10

 

STRENGTH IN DEPTH

The influential Conor Murray departed the scene with barely quarter of an hour gone, Eoin Reddan replacing him.

The Leinster scrum-half looked sharp, almost scoring off a quick break after 29 minutes, but with Ireland seemingly intent on playing an unstructured, high intensity game, he often found his path to ball blocked.

The game broke up still further in the second half as the usual raft of substitutions were made, but by then Italy were out on their feet.

Three of the replacements - Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath - got themselves on the scoresheet. Impressive.

9/10

 

TEMPERAMENT

Despite assurances in the build-up that they would not allow the occasion to get to them, Ireland looked at times as if they were trying to force the pace, striving to match the intensity of a fortnight ago against Wales but without the accuracy.

Paul O'Connell got caught up in some handbags with Tebaldi in the second half, earning a ticking off from Nigel Owens.

The game descended into a carnival late on, with both teams tiring and the TV producers intent on milking the crowd's applause by zooming in on O'Driscoll.

7.5/10

Promoted articles

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport