Red card didn’t help

Lions legend Brian O'Driscoll has admitted that Ireland could have done without having one of their star performers sent off against the All Blacks last Saturday. [more]

Red card didn’t help

Lions legend Brian O’Driscoll has admitted that Ireland could have done without having one of their star performers sent off against the All Blacks last Saturday.

O’Driscoll experienced more heartbreak in New Zealand five years after his Lions tour was ended prematurely as he and his Irish colleagues were beaten 66-28 in New Plymouth.

But while the scoreline may have been far from flattering, it would surely have been closer had Ireland not had Jamie Heaslip sent off with just 15 minutes on the clock.

Having established himself as one of the leading No8s in world rugby on his first Lions adventure last summer, Heaslip had been expected to cement that position against the globe’s top-ranked team.

But that never materialized as he received his marching orders for alleged use of the knee at a ruck early in the game.

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Skipper O’Driscoll believes the sending off did influence the result, although he offered no real complaints about that particular incident or the yellow card to fellow Lion Ronan O’Gara that saw Ireland reduced to 13-men mid-way through the first period.

“It was a bad defeat but the red card had an impact on the game,” said O’Driscoll, who is one of a number of first-team regulars rested for Friday’s clash with the New Zealand Maori in Rotorua.

“I didn’t see the incident or the replay of the red card but there are no complaints about the yellow card because Ronan pulled back Corey Jane and probably stopped a try. Wayne Barnes had no option.

“But, in fairness to the All Blacks they were already in their stride at that stage. It certainly did not help matters.

“It’s difficult enough to play them with 15 men but we lost Jamie and then Ronan to the yellow card and we were chasing shadows.

“It was a tough period of time and we struggled. But I’m a positive person and I was delighted we showed a bit of bottle in the second half.”

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