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Brian O'Driscoll could barely conceal his relief after Ronan O'Gara's drop-goal denied Italy a sensational victory in the dying minutes of their Six Nations clash in Rome on Saturday.
The Ireland skipper admitted his side had made too many mistakes and had failed to 'kill off' the Italians at the Stadio Flaminio.
"The longer they stayed in the game the more of a threat they were going to be," he said.
"We didn't kill them off and then we spilled the ball five metres out. You can't have those sort of mistakes in Test rugby. You don't get away with them.
"But it was a great result to be able to come back from that. We needed a drop goal in the last few minutes and we got it from Ronan.
"We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes today. But you can have a substandard performance and lose and have a substandard performance and win.
"Fortunately for us we won today but there is a lot of work to be done."
Coach Declan Kidney said that Ireland's performance had fallen way short of his expectations but praised his side's composure at the death.
"It was a good team drop-goal," he said. "Everybody knew what they were doing at the end and Ronan played his part, like he's done so before.
"We know we are far from the perfect article. Everyone has to do a lot more work to be a lot more clinical.
"But those last five minutes, you can't buy that, and I'm blessed to have a number of players who know how to handle those situations."
Italy coach Nick Mallett was disappointed at his side's inability to hold out the Irish in the closing stages.
"In the last three minutes Ireland's players managed things better than the Italian ones," he said.
"First there was the mistake at the restart then Ireland's players worked O'Gara into position for the drop goal.
"Ireland has a lot of players like O'Gara, with bags of experience, who know how to handle those type of three minutes."
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