Mallett: Italy needs patience
Rome - Italy's coach Nick Mallett was left cursing his side's lack of patience as the Azzurri were narrowly edged out 13-11 by Ireland in their Six Nations opener.
The hosts at Rome's Stadio Flaminio were two minutes away from a historic first victory over the Irish in the tournament only to see Ronan O'Gara land a drop goal and dash their hopes.
But Mallett said they had their opportunities and simply needed to be more patient.
"We have a great team and everyone gave 100 percent in defence, in attack, through the phases," he said.
"We tried to win the game and scored a try in the 75th minute to get the lead.
"In the first half, four times we had possession in their half, once (Gonzalo) Canale knocked on and the other three times the forwards gave away penalties.
"We then had to defend for five minutes before getting the ball back. We have to be more patient and hold onto the ball for longer.
"In the second half we had three penalties straight away, we lost a lineout five metres from our line but three times we had the chance to hold the ball and lost it.
"At our level even, if we play well and manage the attack and defence, we have to improve.
"But 13-11 is not 34-11, we really had a chance to win against a team who are in our World Cup pool. We got confidence and maybe we put a bit of doubt in their heads."
It was the closest Italy had ever got to beating Ireland in the Six Nations, finishing a point closer than their previous best result.
But vice-captain Leonardo Ghiraldini said it was scant consolation.
"We're very disappointed because we didn't manage to get the result and because of the way we managed the last few minutes," he said.
"But you've got to look at positives, it's our first match (of this tournament), we showed we're very competitive and can beat anyone.
"So we have to continue like this, it's the first game, we did some great things, the spirit of the group is there. We're disappointed about the result but the desire is there and we've got quality.
"All games at this level are close and it's the little things that make the difference to whether you win or lose by two points."
Mallett also lost scrum-half Edoardo Gori to a dislocated shoulder during the first half in only his third cap.
"He's dislocated the shoulder which had already been operated on before. He was carrying an injury because he had a knee problem," said Mallett.
"That didn't hurt him but his shoulder went out in a tackle and that's disappointing for him because we really believe in him and he's maybe out for the rest of the Six Nations, although we hope to have him back for the World Cup."