domingo, febrero 06, 2005

The Six Nations Begins!!!

Press AssociationSunday February 6, 2005

Ireland made a winning start to their 6 Nations campaign, but victory came at cost with midfield pairing Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy picking up injuries. D'Arcy left the field in the 33rd minute of the 28-17 triumph over Italy and O'Driscoll followed in injury time to leave the Leinster duo facing a race against time to be fit for Saturday's clash against Scotland. Coach Eddie O'Sullivan said: "They have hamstring injuries but we don't yet know the extent of the problems. "I think Gordon will be under pressure for next week because he pulled up at full tilt and probably did a bit of damage. "Brian was in a ruck at the end, got hit from behind and was trapped on the floor in the splits position. I'm not quite sure about Brian - we will know more in the morning."

D'Arcy had little opportunity to make any impact on the match, but it was O'Driscoll who inspired Ireland to victory after setting off on two trademark breaks which resulted in tries for Geordan Murphy and Peter Stringer. Stringer's score put Ireland in the driving seat and when Italy staged a rousing fightback late in the match the Triple Crown holders responded with an injury-time try from Denis Hickie to seal the result. O'Sullivan said: "I'm very pleased we won the game. Credit must be given to Italy because they played very well. They dominated possession in the first half which limited our attacking opportunities. "But we created three chances and scored from two of them which was very important because it was a difficult first half. We played for position in the second half and it took us 70 minutes to wear this Italian side down.

"The difference in the end was our back line and I thought we did a lot of damage in the outside channel. Stringer's try came at the right time because it changed the momentum of the game."
England suffered defeat by Wales in their Six Nations opener yesterday and O'Sullivan was pleased his side avoided being on the wrong end of a similar upset at the Stadio Flaminio this afternoon.

"We've all said this is the most open Six Nations for some time. Scotland were underdogs in Paris yesterday and I thought they were unlucky not to beat France," he said. "It was a great performance from Wales but it was still a surprise that that they beat England. We knew that Italy would come at us hard and that if we lost our focus we would also go down. "People said this would be an easy match and that's not the way it transpired. If we'd lost we couldn't have complained about it - Italy did miss some kicks. In this tournament anything can happen on any given day."

Prop Martin Castrogiovanni crossed for an injury-time try which Italy richly deserved and Azzurri coach John Kirwan was delighted by his side's performance against an outfit touted by many as tournament favourites. "I asked that we play at the same level as the other teams in the tournament and I think we did that today. We played very well," he said.
"Eddie O'Sullivan paid us a lot of compliments in the build-up to the match and today was a very good for experience - we matched Ireland and now we must start thinking about Wales.
"I'm disappointed by the final result but not by the performance - that was a good Ireland display so we can be pleased at they way we played.",15694,1407195,00.html

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