O'Driscoll: All Blacks 'worthy winners'
June 9, 2012
Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll is halted by Sonny Bill Williams © Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll hailed New Zealand as "worthy winners" after Ireland went down to the All Blacks 42-10 in Auckland on Saturday.
The 33-year-old centre saw his side's latest attempt at a first win over the world champions fall flat at Eden Park, where Hurricanes wing Julian Savea bagged a hat-trick of tries on debut to power the hosts across the finish line.
O'Driscoll also bemoaned his side's ability to keep hold of the ball and noted the step-up in intensity from provincial competition.
"They are definitely one of the best teams in the world on turnover football. They made us pay a couple of times," he said. "It was a considerable step up from the provincial stuff. Test match rugby is a different level and I think they bring a good intensity and tempo to it. They try to keep the ball in play as much as possible and back themselves.
"For some of their scores we didn't help ourselves but they definitely created a few themselves too. I don't know whether it was a 32-point game but they were considerable, worthy winners."
O'Driscoll believes that Savea's opening try gave the All Blacks added impetus to add width to their game, with Ireland struggling to contain their runners around the fringes.
"They get into a 16-3 scoreline and their passes started sticking a little bit more and they get into their rhythm a little more," he said. "Any team that I have ever been on that has been in the ascendancy, that is what you do. You try and keep building the score. The intensity that they brought, at times it was something we struggled to live with, and getting numbers around the corner because of the speed of their ruck ball."
Despite their dominance, New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw found areas to work on prior to the second Test and promised a further lift in performance.
"It was definitely a step up from Super Rugby," he said. "The Irish put a lot of heat on the breakdown and we had a lot of ball carriers taken down too early. If we get that right and get good, quick ball next week then we can put more pressure on. We can step it up again."
Steve Hansen, in his first game as All Blacks coach following Graham Henry's retirement, called for his side to be more clinical while praising Savea and his fellow new caps, lock Brodie Retallick and scrum-half Aaron Smith.
"There were a couple of tries we blew and there are other areas we will be looking to improve on," he said. "We started this week with a goal to have a performance we could be proud of and I think we have done that. Brodie did the hard, unseen work and Aaron was simply outstanding at half-back. The young man on the wing, he wasn't too bad."
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