Ireland's second string had to hang on for dear life as the American Eagles threatened an upset in Houston on Saturday night before the visitors ran out 15-12 winners in the first test of the North American tour.
Ian Madigan hit all 15 Irish points from the boot as America ran out of steam in a keenly contested game that saw Chris Wyles kick all his side’s 12 points.
Captain Peter O’Mahony was delighted for debutants Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Olding, Jamie Hagan, Mike Sherry and Tommy O’Donnell, who impressed in front of watching new coach Joe Schmidt.
O’Mahony said: “It is an away from home test win and I am thrilled to bits for the boys who won their first caps that the rest of the boys got the win on such a special day.
“I’m thrilled to bits for them, but the overall thing is we got a win away from home, it was a tough game and we expected nothing less.
“They have really improved over the last 12 to 18 months, they have been really pushing on. It was tough out there, the conditions were tough and the ball was really slippy.”
The heat and humidity made it a tough night for the visitors as Irish interim coach Les Kiss admitted.
“I think when you go away in these conditions, when you’ve got five new caps, when you have 119 caps against 285 we’re looking at a team that has improved in USA and there were moments there that it could have gone away from us,” Kiss said.
“I thought there were some real positives there. It’s 15-12, it’s a win. Would we have liked to have taken another score? Absolutely.”