O'Connell bullish ahead of France Test
February 25, 2012
Tommy Bowe was instrumental in his side's victory © Getty Images
Ireland skipper Paul O'Connell believes his side will benefit from having played Italy before facing Les Bleus next weekend as they seek to make it two from two against France in the re-arranged fixture.
The Irish return to the Stade de France tomorrow week after the original fixture was postponed due to a frozen pitch. Rather than face Les Bleus on the back of a dispiriting defeat by Wales, as was the case two weeks ago, they meet the championship favourites having routed Italy five tries to one.
"It's great to get that result going to Paris, so we're probably in a better place than we were the last time we went over," said O'Connell. "It's a good scoreline, there's no doubt about it. The guys are happy with that.
"There's feeling of frustration over the first-half performance and a few of the things we didn't execute. But when we did get out of our half we were good and confident. We took our chances well and kept going at them for 80 minutes, which we haven't always done.
"We have a lot of excellent and classy players and we took our tries well, which was satisfying. It was a good, patient performance."
Tommy Bowe crossed twice while Keith Earls, Tom Court and Andrew Trimble also touched down in perfect conditions as Ireland avoided a fourth successive defeat at Aviva Stadium. But while the final scoreline was emphatic, the performance against a disappointing Italy side was far from perfect.
Coach Declan Kidney praised his side's ambition but accepted it must be reined in on occasion. "We did some simple things well. In the second half we put away our scores very well and we're delighted with that," he said. "There was a bit of wearing down that had to be done in the first 50 minutes, as there are in all Test matches.
"We could probably have done a little more of that in their half rather than ours, but I can't fault the boys for trying to play. We had the courage to play, but what we need to do is get the balance right.
"That comes with playing together and the more time we spend together the better we'll become. But can't go away thinking everything's great just because we scored a few late tries."
Centre Gordon D'Arcy damaged his shoulder but Kidney is unconcerned by the injury, while full-back Rob Kearney's groin tightened up and will be monitored.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel admitted the Azzurri paid the price for a poor second-half display that saw Ireland run in three of their five tries.
"We had two different teams out there. In the first half we tried to play and kept the score close," said the Frenchman. "But in the second half it was completely different, we suffered beneath the Irish pressure and made many mistakes."
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