Late slip-up sours Irish relief at end of losing run

IRELAND (22) vs USA (10)

IRELAND captain Brian O’Driscoll blasted his team’s display after they began their World Cup campaign with a stuttering victory over the United States.

Two tries from winger Tommy Bowe and another from hooker Rory Best ensured they emerged from their Pool C opener in New Plymouth with the minimum requirement.

A win ended their four-match losing run but there was little in the performance to suggest Ireland have shaken off their pre-tournament malaise.

And O’Driscoll, who was particularly frustrated to concede a late intercept try, warned they must improve drastically in their next match, against giants Australia on Saturday.

“We didn’t play well, we really had to fight for our win and we have got a hell of a lot to work on. We turned the ball over too much. Our performance was typified by the last play of the game [the US try],” he said.

“We’ve got a big challenge now against Australia. When it finishes on an intercept try and you don’t have a chance to reply, it leaves a bitter taste.”

Bowe finished an error-ridden first period on a high note when he took an inside pass from fly-half Jonathan Sexton and dived over. Best got the second in the 56th minute, peeling off a maul to charge over, and Bowe followed three minutes later, capping a move of rare speed and incisiveness.