Peter O’Mahony was named Guinness Six Nations Man of the Match as the Ireland skipper guided his side to a 26-16 bonus point win over Italy in Rome.
The blindside flanker praised his side for coming through the intense physical battle with the hosts at Stadio Olimpico.
Second-half scores from Keith Earls and Conor Murray helped Joe Schmidt’s team come from behind after trailing 16-12 at half-time.
And Munster’s O’Mahony, who made 14 tackles on the day and chipped in with a vital lineout steal and breakdown turnover in the second half, was quick to praise their hosts for their display.
“We know how difficult it is coming to Rome, every time we come here we get an intense physical battle,” he said.
“Conor [O’Shea] is doing an incredible job with Italy and they are a super rugby team.
“They put us under pressure massively today and we expected that, they were coming hard and their first 60 minutes is incredibly dangerous.
“But five points away from home, I know there is a lot of expectation on us, but five points away from home in the Six Nations is a hard thing to do – we have dug out two of them now.”
Quinn Roux and Jacob Stockdale had put Ireland 12-3 up early on before Italy surged backed with scores from Luca Morisi and Edoardo Padovani, his third try in as many games.
But Ireland’s 14 unanswered points after the break gave them the bonus-point win.
O’Mahony said they had tried to simplify their game in the second period.
“We needed the ball to stick a bit more and have a bit more accuracy,” he said.
“We were probably trying too hard at times and forcing a few things.
“We said we needed to calm down and go back to our game plan, the moves we know work so well and just try to get through some phases.”
Ireland are now up to third in the Guinness Six Nations table, behind Wales and England at the top of tree.
O’Mahony’s men return to Dublin to face France in two weeks with it all left to play for – particularly with a trip to Principality Stadium on the final weekend.
And the Ireland captain wants to see improvements when they take to the Aviva Stadium on March 10 against Les Bleus.
“We need to have a good look over the last couple of weeks and improve on some of the very good stuff we are doing,” O’Mahony said.
“That’s all we can do, look back to go forward and get better for the next one.”