Heartbreak for Brian O'Driscoll as Irish get close

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 23:01 16/06/2012
Brian O'Driscoll
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
HEARTBREAK: Brian O'Driscoll gets treated for a cut.
All Blacks v Ireland
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Richie McCaw on the charge.

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Ireland were again left to regret and resent their failure to overcome the All Blacks, but they took solace from restoring some pride and now anticipate having one more crack at creating history next week.

The visitors' heartache and frustration were evident. Solemn-faced Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll struggled to find immediate pleasures after blowing the best chance of his career to get one over New Zealand.

"It's difficult to asses when it's raw. I'm gutted alright," O'Driscoll said. "It's difficult right now to see all the positives but I'm sure when we look back at the video there will be plenty of them."

Declan Kidney was a transformed man in the coaching box. He was always confident his side would come back after being embarrassed at Eden Park.

"I thought we had a chance the whole way through. That's the belief I have in our boys. There was a lot of doom and gloom after last week but when you've been in it for a while you know who to get out of it," Kidney said.

With a one-man edge in the closing stages, Ireland attempted to prise open the All Blacks' defence and O'Driscoll felt, on reflection, they could have been wiser in their pursuit of breaking the 107-year drought.

"When you're feeling confident in your play and your one man up there's no reason to just look for penalties," he said. "We were looking for tries and line-breaks but you look back on that and we will probably rue not playing a little bit smarter."

The All Blacks have locked up the three-match series but Ireland will be the more buoyant of the two heading into next week's final clash in Hamilton. The respective mentalities may have reversed.

"The fact we've got one more go next week is definitely a positive," O'Driscoll said.

"We don't have to finish our season on that. We give ourselves another opportunity in Hamilton but we, essentially, failed today.

"We set standards for ourselves. We are trying to be a consistent team and we dipped bellow those standards last week. Individually and collectively, the jersey deserved more from us. We talked about restoring that this week. I think we were able to do that, albeit falling at the final hurdle."

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