Irish consider Ref complaint

Duncan Bech

Ireland will review Saturday's 13-11 Six Nations victory over Italy before deciding whether to make a complaint about referee Romain Poite's handling of the scrum.

A conspiratorial element was added to the match when Italy coach Nick Mallett revealed that Poite had written to the Italian Rugby Federation apologising for the way he refereed prop Martin Castrogiovanni at the set piece in the fixture last year.

Ireland were thumped 13-5 on the penalty count at the Stadio Flaminio on Saturday and were pinged numerous times at the scrum.

"I was made aware of the fact the referee had written to the Italian union to apologise for his handling of the game last year," said head coach Declan Kidney.

"When I asked him, the referee informed me that was just the opposition coach trying to put the pressure on him.

"I'll look at the video and if we need to make an appropriate enquiry we will do so.

"Most of the penalties did seem to come at the scrum but we've been told there's an avenue for us to approach this.

"We've been asked to trust it and that's what I'll do. Rugby is a tough game to adjudicate on, but I'll trust that first and see what type of reaction I get from it."

Ireland were rescued from an embarrassing defeat by a 78th minute Ronan O'Gara drop-goal shortly after a try from full-back Luke McLean had nudged Italy into an 11-10 lead.

Kidney was delighted with the response of his team when faced with one of the greatest upsets in the championship's history.

"Those last four minutes are something you can't coach. You either have it or you don't -- and we had it," he said.

"We could have panicked, but we didn't."

Brian O'Driscoll crossed in the 44th minute for a try that suggested Ireland were about to run riot, but the points avalanche never materialised amid a sea of missed opportunities.

"I know how hard the players try and there were a few wild passes. Once we'd made one or two, we tried harder," said Kidney.

"If that's a frustration, I have to look upon it as a positive frustration. We just have to calm down and hang on to the ball.

"France, next Sunday, will be delighted if we turn the ball over as much as we did against Italy."

Jamie Heaslip could return to face the Grand Slam champions in Dublin after making encouraging progress in his battle with an ankle injury. Andrew Trimble's arm problem is also healing rapidly, but Stephen Ferris is a bigger doubt because of his knee injury.