Ireland 20-20 Australia, Croke Park, November 15
O'Driscoll hails resurgent O'Gara
November 16, 2009
Brian O'Driscoll touches down for his last-gasp try at Croke Park © Getty Images
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll heaped praise on Ronan O'Gara after the fly-half answered his critics in the 20-20 draw with Australia at Croke Park.
O'Gara suffered a nightmare on the British & Irish Lions' tour to South Africa in the summer with an ill-fated cameo in the second Test defeat to the Springboks and has also been the subject of criticism since returning to the domestic stage with Munster. But O'Driscoll was impressed by the veteran's contribution, that included a 10-point haul, despite a third-minute error that handed the opening try to Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell.
"I thought Ronan was really good. He controlled the game very well and passed very well," he said. "That first pass was a fraction too deep but we'll take 50-50 blame for that. His kicking was good and he read things well.
"It was a big performance - not that any of his team-mates who have played with him a lot of time felt he needed it. He's involved in a team that's top of their Heineken Cup group and three points off the lead in the Magners League yet people are giving a little about him. That's rough."
O'Gara converted O'Driscoll's late try with the last kick of the match to secure Ireland a share of the spoils in Dublin and end the Wallabies' hopes of a grand slam tour of the UK and Ireland.
"I'm pleased we were rewarded for showing the bottle to stick with them until the death and grind out a draw," added O'Driscoll. "We tried a lot of things. Not everything stuck but plenty of things did. If you don't try these things you don't get better. We'll all be better for having played together. It's difficult to click when you haven't played together for six months. Australia have played a lot recently and for the most part we did reasonably well."
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."
"Here is the line-up I believe will take to the field on Saturday, let the abuse commence." Tom Hamilton has a punt at the Lions' starting XV for the first Test in his latest Tour Diary
"Drafting former Lions heroes and rising stars into your side at short notice may make for great copy but it does not make for a great side." Graham Jenkins on the lesson from the Lions' first loss
"At full-time I could not see the field for people dancing in front of me." Tom Hamilton reflects on the Lions' defeat at the hands of the Brumbies in Canberra
To coincide with the Lions' tour of Australia, and in association with Dove Men+Care, we are asking you to vote for the greatest Lions moments of the professional era