Game at a Glance - Ireland v Samoa
MAN OF THE MATCH: Rory Best
After a torrid Lions tour, the hooker has emerged as a significant cog in Ulster's fine start to the season and he maintained that form on Saturday, servicing the line-out with impeccable accuracy and winning a handful of important turnovers.
When George Pisi was correctly binned for tip-tackling his opposite number in the dying seconds of the first half, Paddy Jackson kicked his side 14-6 ahead after Pisi's brother Tusa had missed a chance for 11-9. While down to 14 men, Samoa conceded a seven-pointer and any chance of victory.
Jamie Heaslip had confidently predicted that most of the crowd would be in their seats by kick-off. Thirteen minutes – a ridiculously long time – after the teams had emerged from the tunnel, that wasn't the case. Mexican waves and incessantly piped music added up to an uneven atmosphere until Ireland belatedly cut loose in the final quarter.
O'Driscoll provided them all, from a no-look pass in first-half injury-time, to the sublime, between-the-legs pass that created the momentum that supplied Ireland's second, crucial try that put this game to bed. Not many of these moments left – so cherish them while you can.
Jackson was again under scrutiny, benefiting from Johnny Sexton's perceived flatness, not to mention hip trouble, and Ian Madigan's relegation to the bench at Leinster. He fully justified his place in the side and did enough to ensure that he may edge Madigan from the bench for next week's visit of the Australians.
WHAT THEY SAID
Joe Schmidt (Ireland coach)
"Australia are the third-ranked team in the world, we're a fair way off that. We've got to maximise our performance next week. We're going to have to be twice as good."
Steve Betham (Samoa coach)
"Urgency is something that comes within the person. Coaches can try their best to drive it, but it has to be something people bring for themselves."
In Lansdowne Road next Saturday (5.45), Ireland take on Australia, after the Wallabies' facile 50-20 victory in Turin against an Italian side who downed the Irish last March in the final Six Nations game.