O’Gara saves Ireland’s blushes
5 Feb 2011
A drop goal by Ronan O’Gara two minutes before the end secured Ireland a 13-11 victory over Italy in Rome on Saturday.
Ireland had to do most of the defensive work in the first 20 minutes, but every time the Azzuri looked threatening unforced, sloppy play halted their momentum.
Wing Mirco Bergamasco opened the scoring with a penalty in the seventh minute, but the visitors found their stride late in the first half, setting up several phases and testing Italy’s defence. Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton equalled the scores in the 28th minute, but Bergamasco goaled again just before half-time to end off an uneventful first half.
Ireland showed much more attacking intent in the second half and captain Brian O’Driscoll sent them into the lead in the 44th minute. Sexton converted to make the score 10-6.
Ireland winger Fergus McFadden butchered a scoring opportunity shortly thereafter and when Denis Leamy was sent off seven minutes before full time their task became arduous. Luke McLean gave Italy the lead five minutes before the end, however, Bergamasco missed the crucial conversion.
O’Gara duly sunk the decisive drop-goal to avoid an embarrassing defeat.
By Casper Strydom