Brian O'Driscoll relieved after Ireland edge out Italy
O'Driscoll thankful after 'substandard' win
Brian O'Driscoll did little to hide his relief after Ronan O'Gara's drop-goal prevented Italy from earning a shock first Six Nations win over Ireland.
Irish captain O'Driscoll paid tribute to O'Gara as the fly-half's 77th-minute strike ensured a 13-11 win in Rome.
"It just shows the calibre of the guy to be able to come and do it time and time again," said O'Driscoll.
"There were uncharacteristic mistakes and we have to look at that. It was a sub-standard performance."
After an error-ridden first-half display, the Irish moved 10-6 ahead early in the second half thanks to O'Driscoll's 44th-minute try but Luke McLean's 75th-minute score had Italy on the verge of a sensational victory.
"The longer they stayed in the game, the more threatening they were going to be, as they showed with five minutes to go," said the Ireland captain.
"We didn't kill them off, I threw a loose ball into touch [to Fergus McFadden] and we missed other chances.
"You can't cough it up against any side in Test rugby, and Italy nearly made us pay.
"But it is a great result to come back. With four minutes left we needed a drop-goal and we got one.
"There are no excuses. It is not as if we haven't been playing a lot of rugby.
"Thankfully we won, which is probably the only thing we can take out of the game."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney described O'Gara's late score as a "good team drop-goal".
"Everybody knew what they were doing at the end and Ronan played his part, like he's done so before," added Kidney.
"Those last five minutes, you can't buy that, and I'm blessed to have a number of players who know how to handle those situations.
There is a huge difference in Ireland's ability to close out a game and they managed things better than the Italian players in the last few minutes
Italy coach Nick Mallett
"But we wouldn't hide behind the fact that we were far from perfect. The execution wasn't great. We created chances but didn't manage to finish them off. Everyone has to do a lot more work to be a lot more clinical."
Italy coach Nick Mallett rued his side's inability to hold onto the ball after going ahead with four minutes left.
"We just had to control the kick-off and hold onto our ball," he said." But there was a mistake at the restart - poor Quintin Geldenhuys knocked it on, but I don't want to criticise him, he had a very good game - and then Ireland worked O'Gara into position for the drop-goal.
"Obviously there is a huge difference in Ireland's ability to close out a game and they managed things better than the Italian players in the last few minutes.
"Ireland has a lot of players like O'Gara, with bags of experience, who know how to handle that.
"Hopefully we will learn not to do that next time if we are in the same position. But I am very proud of the way we played.
"Ireland are very good on attack but we were very disciplined and defended very well. They only scored one try and that was O'Driscoll against a prop, so I can't complain too much."
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