O'Driscoll hails 'smart' display

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The Independent Online

Brian O'Driscoll was delighted to see Ireland finally put "the whole package" together as they beat England 24-8 to end Martin Johnson's RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam dream.

Captain O'Driscoll scored the second try - a record 25th in the competition - to help his side to victory in Dublin as they finished the Six Nations on a high note.

"We knew it was in us, for some reason it hadn't happened in the first four games," he told BBC1. "Parts of our game were really good but we hadn't been able to put the whole package together.

"We played a smart game, an intense game, and they couldn't live with us.

"We lost the second half but to score 24 points against this team is an impressive innings.

"We won the Slam two years ago and had a mixed bag last year, and even though we had nothing tangible to play for today it's great to finish with a resounding win."

Tommy Bowe also crossed while Jonathan Sexton slotted over 14 points with the boot to claim the man of the match award.

Sexton edged out Ronan O'Gara to selection at number 10 and O'Driscoll continued: "We're very fortunate to have two top-class out-halves. Sexton did the business today when a lot of people were saying Ronan should have started."

Sexton added: "It was a close call who started and I was delighted to get the nod.

"It's just a brilliant day for everyone involved. It wasn't really about me, it was about me doing as much as I could for the team."

Had Ireland lost today, it would have left them with their worst return since the competition was expanded to six teams and they had faced criticism in the build-up to the game.

But Sexton told BBC1: "We've just been making individual errors and people have been looking for reasons why we've not been playing well, I think penalties have been killing us as well.

"We tend to get a little negative in Ireland and sometimes it was warranted, sometimes it wasn't."

England coach Martin Johnson saw replacement hooker Steve Thompson rumble over for a consolation try in the second half, but could not hide his unhappiness at an error-strewn display.

He said: "We're desperately disappointed, (a) not to have won the game and (b) the way we lost.

"They outplayed us, we had a horrible first half and did everything we talk about not doing away from home - we compounded errors and they got a couple on us at the breakdown."

Asked whether his side had struggled with the pressure of a potential clean sweep, he said: "Pressure is the name of the game. We've got a lot doing this for the first time and there were a few errors.

"Ireland are a savvy team, full of pride, and we've got what we've got - a team of good young players. Everyone's got a win and a loss in them, you get that if you don't play well and we got it today.

"It was horrible today, our best two attacking moves in the second half ended with us giving the ball straight to them.

"If everyone makes one mistake, that's 15 mistakes and it was that kind of day today.

"We came here to win the game and we've fallen way short. It's just disappointing, we could have been better."