Rugby World Cup 2011: O’Driscoll hails clinical Ireland
Ireland produced a scintillating display against Italy to set up a quarter-final clash with Wales on Saturday
Brian O’Driscoll hailed a clinical performance after Ireland booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a resounding victory over Italy.
The Ireland captain scored the opening try before Keith Earls touched down twice in the second half as the Irish topped Pool C and booked a quarter-final match-up against Wales next weekend.
O’Driscoll pinpointed Ireland’s dominance after the break as the decisive factor in a bruising encounter in Dunedin.
“Obviously we’re delighted with the win,” said O’Driscoll. “We were able to deliver in the second half.”
“We knew we were going to have to be patient. You have to be against any test team these days.”
He added: “You have to grind them down, you have to work teams through phases so we managed to do that we were good and patient and I think we got our scores and took them clinically when we needed to.”
The first half was a cagey affair, with fly-half Ronan O’Gara and Italy’s Mirco Bergamasco trading penalty kicks as the Irish ended the opening 40 minutes with a narrow 9-6 lead.
O’Driscoll then made the crucial breakthrough after the break when he collected a pass from Tommy Bowe and burst past the wall of blue to touch down in the 47th minute.
Ireland extended their lead with another try five minutes later when Earls charged into the corner after a tremendous work from Gordon D’Arcy and Stephen Ferris in the build-up.
Rob Kearney and Bowe were denied late tries by the video referee before Earls sealed Ireland’s place in the quarter-finals with a 79th-minute try.
O’Driscoll admits he is now eagerly anticipating the clash against Wales next weekend – and he expects a close game between the two northern hemisphere sides.
“It’s going to be another great challenge for us,” he said. “It’s been very close in recent years and I would envisage it being another close one.
“It will be the team that turns up on the day that goes into the semi finals.”
Ireland: Kearney, Bowe, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, Earls, O’Gara, Murray; Healy, Best, Ross, O’Callaghan, O’Connell, Ferris, O’Brien, Heaslip.
Replacements: Cronin for Best (53), Ryan for O’Connell (58), Sexton for O’Gara (67), , Court for Healy (72), Leamy for Ferris (72), Reddan for Murray (73), Trimble.
Italy: Masi, Benvenuti, Canale, Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco, Orquera, Semenzato; Perugini, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Geldenhuys, Van Zyl, Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, Parisse.
Replacements: Lo Cicero for Castrogiovanni (34), Bocchino for Orquera (40), Derbyshire for Mauro Bergamasco (49), Gori for Semenzato (56), Bortolami for van Zyl (61), Ongaro for Ghiraldini (67).