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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 February 2008, 17:32 GMT
O'Sullivan relieved at 'ugly' win
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan admitted it was not one of Ireland's better displays
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan admitted the team's 16-11 opening Six Nations win over Italy was not a vintage display but was glad to get the win.

Apart from Girvan Dempsey's first-half try Ireland were dependent on the kicking of Ronan O'Gara and had to endure a tense finale to the match.

"It was a long, drawn-out, ugly affair and we had to work very hard for the win," he said afterwards.

"They showed a lot of composure to come out on the right side of that game."

Last year Ireland trounced Italy 51-24 in Rome, but this game was a different affair, much more like the previous year's laboured and unmemorable victory for Ireland in Dublin.

"People read too much into the fact we played so well in Rome last year," he said.

"It was our fifth game in a row as a team and we'd gelled, they just had a bad day out and we punished them but you're not going to have that every week in the Six Nations.


"My memory is that two years ago it was a dour affair, very difficult game and we had to work hard for our win.

"I'd have preferred if we hit the ground running but I have to be sensible and know the winning the first game is hard."

"In the first half we showed some great flashes and played some good rugby after the initial shadowboxing, but we didn't finish things off and the danger is that the opposition come back into the game."

Italy's try was a debatable Martin Castrogiovanni effort in the second half, awarded on the advice of the replay official after a huge pile-up on the line.

I'm very proud of the way the guys defended

Italy coach Nick Mallett

But O'Sullivan revealed that there was no way he could have used that as an excuse, even if he had wanted to.

"I can't comment on the try as there was a powercut in the stadium and we had no replays or connections with ref link or anything. We were watching like spectators so I was guessing like everyone else," he said.

Italy coach Nick Mallett said his side's second-half display was a marked improvement, but conceded that Ireland had just about deserved the victory.

"I didn't enjoy the first half too much," Mallett told BBC Sport.

"I thought we were comprehensively outplayed and fortunate to have only one try scored against us.

"The second half was a bit broken with injuries and stoppages but I thought our defence improved and I was pleased that towards the end, Ireland showed us the respect of going for a penalty because we were within five points.

"I didn't think we deserved to win it but I'm very proud of the way the guys defended and we did put together some good passages of play."

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