New Zealand 27 Ireland 17: O'Driscoll laments missed opportunities for victory

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Ireland left New Zealand for Australia yesterday confident of a strong performance to come against the Wallabies in Perth next weekend.

"I'd like to think it is going to make us just a little bit hungrier," said the captain, Brian O'Driscoll, of the defeat in difficult conditions in Auckland on Saturday. "This team has really moved on in the last couple of years. We don't accept mediocrity or close losses."

Ireland lost the first Test, in Hamilton a week before, 34-23 to a similarly weakened New Zealand side.

"We found ourselves within touching distance of the All Blacks going into the last few minutes and we kind of let them off the hook in a way," O'Driscoll said.

"You could see in the dressing-room the disappointment in the boys' faces, now that there are two big opportunities that passed us by. And you don't know when the next opportunity against them is going to come."

"When we got within three points we really felt we had them on the rack," he said, referring to the moments after the hooker Jerry Flannery's try late in the second half, the lock Paul O'Connell having scored the tourists' first.

"We just came up with a couple of silly errors at crucial times that punished us. It was a hard-fought Test match and the fact that we didn't manage to grind it out in the end is a huge disappointment."

Ronan O'Gara kicked seven points but the outside-half's opposite number, Luke McAlister, did more.

Daniel Carter's stand-in kicked two penalties and conversions of tries by Byron Kelleher and Clarke Dermody before scoring and converting his own try to seal the victory.

New Zealand: Tries Kelleher, Dermody, McAlister; Conversions McAlister 3; Penalties McAlister 2. Ireland: Tries O'Connell, Flannery; Conversions O'Gara 2; Penalty O'Gara.

New Zealand: M Muliaina; D Howlett (both Auckland), C Laulala, A Mauger (both Canterbury), J Rokocoko (Auckland); L McAlister (North Harbour), B Kelleher (Otago); C Dermody (Southland), K Mealamu (Auckland), C Hayman (Otago), C Jack (Canterbury), T Flavell, J Kaino (both Auckland), R McCaw (Canterbury, capt), R So'oialo (Wellington). Replacements: G Rawlinson (North Harbour) for Flavell, 53; C Newby (Otago) for Kaino, 67; N Tialata (Wellington) for Dermody, 67; D Hill (Waikato) for McAlister, 74; A Hore (Taranaki) for Mealamu, 74.

Ireland: G Murphy (Leicester); S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy (all Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (all Munster), N Best (Ulster), D Wallace, D Leamy (both Munster). Replacements: G Dempsey (Leinster) for Murphy 46-52 & for Trimble, 75; B Young (Ulster) for Horan, 72; M O'Driscoll (Munster) for Best, 74; I Boss (Ulster) for Stringer, 75.

Referee: J Kaplan (South Africa).

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