Brian O'Driscoll was delighted with the patience shown by Ireland as they continued their assault on the RBS 6 Nations title with a 38-9 victory over Italy.
Tommy Bowe, David Wallace and Brian O’Driscoll crossed while Luke Fitzgerald ran in a pair of tries as Ireland made it two wins from two matches in the championship.
But they had to survive a spirited early onslaught from Italy, who conceded late tries to Fitzgerald and O’Driscoll after their heads dropped in the final 10 minutes.
“We’re happy to have won. The scoreline may flatter us but we’ll take anything we can get,” said captain O’Driscoll.
“It’s pleasing that things didn’t start well for us but the longer the game went on the better we got.
“We were patient and knew we’d have to wait to break them down before taking our opportunities.
“They didn’t score a try and that’s because of our defence, not because of their lack of ability. Things didn’t click for them today.”
England at Croke Park in a fortnight is the next assignment and O’Driscoll is pleased with Ireland’s progress through the championship so far.
“We’re where we want to be. We’ve played two games and won two games. Any time you come to Rome and score 38 points you’d be happy,” he said.
“We’re pleased but there’s plenty to work on, which is a good place to be. There’s still a lot of graft to put in before the England game.”
Three of Ireland’s tries came from Italian mistakes, the first by Bowe arriving completely against the run of play as he intercepted a loose pass.
Italy had been 6-0 up at that stage and went on to concede another to Fitzgerald on the stroke of half-time, handing the visitors a 14-9 lead they hardly deserved.
Ireland took control after the interval with head coach Declan Kidney admitting Bowe’s try was a crucial moment.
“I’m delighted with the win,” said Kidney. “It’s very important to keep a balance when you look at the match.
“Sometimes you don’t win, even though you don’t play very well.
“I thought we were very patient after 20 minutes. In the first 20 minutes we were pushing it a little bit and Italy had us under enormous pressure.
“Because there was so much competition at the breakdown we were conceding penalties which put them in front.
“Our first try was well taken by Tommy but we were a bit fortunate to get it.
“It was a big relief because had Italy moved to 9-0 it could have been quite different. That try was a huge lift for us.”