O'Driscoll promises improvement from Ireland
November 15, 2009
Brian O'Driscoll gets over for the last gasp try that secured the draw for Ireland © Getty Images
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll refused to get carried away with his side's performance after they snatched a dramatic 20-20 draw with Australia at Croke Park.
The centre marked his 100th cap by scything through the Australian backline in the final minute to save the Six Nations champions from defeat but he admitted his side had work to do ahead of clashes with Fiji and South Africa in the coming weeks.
"We're pleased to have pulled the draw out of the hat," he said. "It was mixed emotions, I felt we didn't play well but we got the draw, and we showed good bottle to pull it back. We gifted the first try to them, it was mixed communications between me and ROG [Ronan O'Gara], and we let them in. It's difficult to play catch up rugby against a quality side like Australia.
"We got back into it, we tried to attack much more than we did in the Six Nations, we'll get better than when we play more games. We struggled at rucks, Mr. [David] Pocock slowed ball down and pinched a lot of ball, we'll look at that for Fiji and look to improve on that."
O'Driscoll's try was the product of a well-drilled set-piece move that saw him run onto a pass from Tomas O'Leary to stroll over unopposed.
"It's a smart play that we've practised a lot over the last year. In the Six Nations we didn't have the chance to use it," said O'Driscoll. "It's nice when plays like that come off."
Coach Declan Kidney agreed with his captain's assessment of the game and praised his side's never-say-die approach.
"We're delighted to have got it at end, we stuck to it," he said. "One thing I always say to the lads is that you can't coach attitude, and we showed attitude in abundance, a lot of things to work on, wasn't best day but not worst either. We got two handy tries, when they have possession they held on to it and when you have as little possession as we did it's good to get a result."
Both captain and coach paid tribute to the efforts of debutant Cian Healy whose barnstorming charge led to Tommy Bowe's second-half try and who contributed well in an excellent first appearance in the green jersey.
"The guys only 22 and playing in the front row, no easy thing so I've heard. It's fantastic for him and his family, Clontarf and Leinster," O'Driscoll said.
"He did well," Kidney added. "For a front row in that position he did very well. He made that burst that led to the try, contributed around the park. Good tackling and things like that. It's a once off, you only get to make your debut once."
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was obviously disappointed to see his side's grand slam dreams ended. "We're very disappointed not to get a win," he said. "Credit to Irish they played right to the end and got the draw. We're not surprised by them coming back at all, we watched the Six Nations and they're a very good team.
"It was clearly a game we could have and should have won," said Deans. "The fact Ireland were still within seven points near the end was the critical element. We played enough rugby and had enough possession and opportunities to get beyond that but didn't do it.
"When you leave the door ajar to a team that has the maturity, belief and persistence of Ireland, they'll come back and save their skins. Ireland escaped with a draw. It was only in the last seconds of the game they were able to level with us so we are frustrated. There's no doubt Ireland were a step up from England. We stepped up our performance today."
Wallabies assistant coach Jim Williams agreed but he said that his team should have seen Ireland's comeback coming. "I didn't expect anything less from Ireland," he said. "People had said Ireland might be rusty but didn't look it. They were behind in 6 Nations, particularly against France and they always came back. It's a game of 80 minutes and you have to play that way. Ireland kept going and they got the result."
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game