Really, Nick Mallett? Is that all you had to back up your big talk? A spot of eye-gouging? Sorry, mate, but not the best way to end a spell at the helm of a major international squad!
Maybe I'm being a bit hard on the Italians, but let's face it...cheating was all they had to stop us, and it got them nowhere.
The cynics out there, and some of them are Irish, will point to the fact that Italy's key man was missing for the majority of the match much like Australia's had been, but I'd take some convincing that Castrogiovanni's presence would have done any more than halve the final margin.
For whatever advantage the Italian front row might have had in the scrums, and to be honest I never saw it, it was completely cancelled out by their inability to defend when put on the back foot, something Ireland were able to do with consummate ease throughout the contest.
And nothing put us on the front foot better than our lineout domination on our own throw, and the second half brace of tries that killed this one off both came from those set-pieces.
It really wasn't a tough decision on the part of the coaching staff to see how best get through the blue-clad centres...and the way our back three & back row ran their lines for the inside passes from ROG, Darce & BOD proves that this was a style they were working on all along, which for me anyway is evidence that the lame lateral passing game we saw in August was nothing but a green herring.
As always thoughout this World Cup, I've given individual ratings for the Irish players over on The Rugby Blog, so please follow the link to check them out.
But although Sean O'Brien was man-of-the-match and deservedly so, I'd like to focus on four Irishmen who have come in for a lot of stick in recent times and all of whom did more than their fair share in Dunedin on Sunday.
And yes, they're all Leinster players. Call me “one-eyed” all you want, I don't care!
The so-called “expert analysis” on Rob Kearney's game was that his prowess under the highball may have been great under the rule interpretations in '08 & '09 but since then the game had evolved to such an extent that he would probably become ordinary at test level in his position. And let's face it, injuries haven't helped him to prove that theory wrong.
But can you seriously tell me after those pool matches there's an Irishman who could do better in that 15 jersey? Nope, didn't think so. The only time Rob will have to worry about his place is when he goes back to the RDS.
Next up, Mr Gordon D'Arcy. Stood up to his tackles as he has throughout this World Cup, but now the strong running is back into play as well. Again, we can delete any question marks that may have been hanging over a position in our back line. The way he and our skipper complement each other all over the park makes them an envy of the majority of coaches at this tournament. Like, say, Martin Johnson?
Criticism levelled at our number 8 of late was more for things he wasn't doing, and I doubt anyone would ever seriously consider dropping him. And once more I'll say I believe that criticism is unfair, particularly when O'Brien is forced to play at seven.
Heaslip made his tackles, played a key role in our lineout dominance, but was an absolute terror in the loose on defence. He's getting his head whacked so many times by his team-mates after turnovers in rucks he's running the risk of concussion! By rights the man of the match award should have been split between him, O'Brien and of course Stephen Ferris.
And last, but certainly not least, I can't ignore Jonny Sexton's cameo. The 8:30am Sunday kickoff coupled with my being out the night before meant I was watching the match at home and thus was fully plugged in to my twitter timeline throughout the match.
I lost count of the amount of tweets after O'Gara's first kick sailed over the bar which read something like “THAT'S why he's in the team ahead of Sexton.” I didn't lose count of the tweets by the same people after his second kick struck the crossbar, however, since there weren't any.
But my conscience is clear on this particular debate when it comes to “one-eyed” accusations...I made ROG's selection for this match the focus of my writeup last week and I still believe it was the right call.
And perhaps I was a tad mischievous when I tweeted that Sexton was the only 100% Irish kicker on the day, but I will say this – whatever about the scoreline at the time, there was a ton of pressure on him, most of all no doubt from within himself, to nail the conversion of Earls' second try at the end. And nail it he did.
When you add that to his tackle on Gori in the last 10 minutes which secured a turnover and held out the Italians who clearly were motivated to end the Mallet era with a try, you have evidence of a man who is winning the battle with his gremlins.
Not that I'm saying O'Gara played badly, far from it. But the Welsh are going to be a much different proposition, particularly in positions 9 through 15, and surely no matter how many eyes you use to look at rugby you must see a strong case for Reddan and Sexton starting next weekend.
Now I repeat – I'm not saying the Dunedin result is all about Leinster, but the four players I singled out had all been copping some flak and to a man they vindicated Declan Kidney's faith in them.
Another one, it could be said, is Keith Earls, who on account of his try double AND his birthday we'll forgive for his horrendous dive over the line at the end. More than a touch of irony in that try being set-up by a burst from the man breathing down his neck for that 11 jersey, Andrew Trimble, I might add.
And as for Tommy Bowe...he can't seem to buy a try in these big matches, can he? Nobody will remember the two he got against the USA, but although fatigue plus a herculean effort by James O'Connor stopped him in Auckland, in this match it was downright shoddy South African officiating by Jonathan Kaplan and his TMO Shaun Veldsman that kept the Monaghan-born winger off the scoresheet.
Here comes the “be gracious to the oppostion” paragraph...but cheating notwithstanding, you have to feel for Sergio Parisse – he's a man who deserves to have more success on his cv than a mere 33 minutes' appearance in a victorious Top14 final in 2007. But hey – if Isa can't swap nationalities, neither can he.
Ireland's victory could have come at something of a cost – I saw the fall that did for Rory Best's shoulder and at the time of writing he is listed as “doubtful” for the quarterfinal. When you've put so much emphasis on your front row, to lose one hooker is unfortunate, to lose two, (no, not careless!) a near tragedy – and all eyes will be on Sean Cronin next Saturday should he start, particularly his darts – we badly need that quality lineout ball as a platform.
Still, I say we take a day or two to look back on an immensely succesful pool campaign. Of course much bigger battles lie ahead. But if those who bemoaned our four defeats in the “warm-ups” are still finding fault after four successive wins in matches that actually matter, then I'd suggest they're more expert at moaning than rugby.
As for me, I'm going to let my anticipation build over the coming days for what should be an absolute barn-burner of a World Cup quarterfinal in Wellington on Saturday morning. Warren Gatland will have a lot more up his sleeve to back up what will surely be a barrage of pre-match trash talk. JLP