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Published: 16:51 | 12/3/16

Schmidt happy to return to winning ways

Pleased with Irish performance

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was delighted to return to winning ways in the RBS Six Nations after watching Ireland demolish Italy 58-15, but suggested that he didn't learn too much from the game.

Ireland scored nine tries for the first time in the RBS Six Nations in a fine display of open running rugby to restore some pride after an indifferent campaign to date.

However, while Schmidt was pleased with the performance, he wasn't sure how valuable it was in terms of where his team are following the disappointing results against France and England earlier in the champioship.

“We were probably afforded a bit more space than we have in the first few weeks, we had three really tough teams in first three games,” he said.

“That allowed us to open the game up. We were reasonably solid at the start and we grew into the game.

“We maybe lost our way in the last quarter because of the changes we made, which was disappointing, but it’s great to get the win on the board with a bit to spare.

"It’s great to see that and watch that and when you afforded the space and open to do that, that’s exactly how you want to play.

“We had been squeezed for time and space by the teams we had played in our first three game and we will be squeezed again by Scotland, no doubt.

“You learn a little bit about the guys who came off the bench, they had the comfort of a cushion coming into the game so they didn’t have that pressure that test match rugby often has.

“It also showed that we haven’t been that far away in the last few games. When the pressure came off it was great to see the team play like that.”

As regards selection for the final game of the campaign against Scotland next weekend, Schmidt was non-commital.

“We see how the players come through and how they pull up after the game,” he added.

“We’ll have guys who can come back into the mix who we didn’t want to risk today and there are lads who put their hands up and who won’t want to give up the jersey they had today.”

Meanwhile, skipper Rory Best was pleased to return to winning ways.

"We talked a lot before the game about things we hadn't done well enough. It's pleasing - to score 58 points in a Six Nations game is an achievement," he said.

"You have got to give respect to the opposition and pick your best team for the game. We have ultimate faith in the coaching staff. The time will come for the youngsters."


By: Kieran O'Daly

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