Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Billy Stickland/INPHO O'Shea at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon.
# The Italian Job
O'Shea: 'We’ve a big, big dream for this World Cup. I believe in what I’m seeing'
The Italian head coach was able to take plenty of positives from his side’s effort in Dublin.

A NINTH SUCCESSIVE defeat to Ireland for Italy, but there was considerable cause for optimism for Conor O’Shea as he reflected on his side’s performance at the Aviva Stadium.

Although they too were fielding a much-changed, patched-up side, the visitors twice took the lead in the first half, and showed plenty of encouraging signs before Ireland pulled clear.

Italy’s controlled and relentless rolling maul pressure yielded the desired result as early as the 13th minute, as flanker Maxime Mbanda crashed over for the game’s opening score, and then Carlo Canna added a second after the hosts had struck back through Joey Carbery at the other end.

“Always a thought,” O’Shea said, when asked if he believed his team could achieve a result in Dublin during an impressive opening quarter.

“That was a match we wanted to win. It’s very hard to contextualise when you go for your first hit out. I thought there was a lot of positives from us in terms of physically where we are.

“The obvious work on is our side of the ball and their side of the ball in terms of the exits, where I think we made Andrew Conway’s market value go up a few quid today. I thought in terms of match-ups across the board we were more than able to hold our own.”

O’Shea lamented the concession of a couple of ‘soft’ tries, particularly at the start of the second half when Jordi Murphy barrelled over for Ireland’s fourth and then Kieran Marmion added a fifth when blocking Ian McKinley down. 

“It comes to the stage of what we control,” the former Ireland international continued.

Maxime Mbanda scores his sides first try James Crombie / INPHO Mbanda opened the scoring for Italy. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“We’ve got to get it right. All in all, we wanted to win but we’re pretty comfortable where we are.

“I think we gave away a few very, very soft tries. But at the end of it, we’ll look at our execution of things. The set-piece at the start, maybe we had scrum issues but as the game went on we got stronger and stronger in the set-piece and I thought our lineout performed very well today. They’re the things we look for in these games.”

Italy will host Russia at home next weekend before further hit-outs against France and England. Although they face a daunting task in Pool B, coming up against South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and Namibia, O’Shea is very positive about his team’s progress.

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“Every day these guys, their body fat is going down, their weight is going up and they are getting fitter,” he added.

“We’ve a big, big dream for this World Cup. I believe in what I’m seeing and I think we are going in the right way.”

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